The earlier student movement at UC Berkeley and SNCC were important formative experiences in my life.
Mike Miller — September, 1999
After SNCC...brief notes on what I've been up to since 1966
In December, 1966, I attended my last SNCC staff meeting — the infamous Peg Leg Bates meeting. I was on my way to Kansas City, MO to work as "staff director" for an organizing project of Saul Alinsky's Industrial Areas Foundation. The project was in the city's African-American community and was a federation of churches, block clubs, public housing tenant associations and other groups. The project was a year old when I assumed the lead organizer role. It was in trouble when I got there, and it never got out of being in trouble. The last six months I was there, I took a Darvon pill every day because of the headaches I'd been having. I got on the airplane to return to my San Francisco Bay Area home in July, 1967 and the headaches immediately stopped.
The Kansas City experience convinced me that I should get out of organizing. Friends in San Francisco's Mission District persuaded me to take a short-term job as organizer of the Founding Convention of the Mission Coalition Organization (MCO). The work went well. I was asked, and agreed, to become the permanent lead organizer and have been involved with community organizing ever since.
In 1972, with the support of friends in the Bay Area, I started ORGANIZE Training Center of which I am the Executive Director. This has been my base of operations since that time, and has involved me and our small staff in a variety of community and labor organizing efforts. Along the road, I also taught community organizing at a Notre Dame summer session and at various colleges and universities in the Bay Area. And, I've written on organizing for a variety of publications.
In my work, I've tried to bring together my lessons from SNCC and "The Movement" with my work for Alinsky. I think the basic ingredients of what is needed to bring about fundamental change in the country are to be found somewhere in the mix of the two traditions. My time on the SNCC staff and participating in "The Movement" remain one of the most significant experiences of my life.
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