**My entire career and life has been devoted to the proposition that while one person is unfree, so am I, so are we all.
**In spring of 1960, I organized students to do picketing of Woolworths in Chicago, in sympathy with the Sit-Ins in the South.
**In June, 1961, I was a Freedom Rider, arrested in Jackson, and was incarcerated for 40 days, in Parchman Prison, the Hinds County Jail, and Jackson City Jail. Then I bailed out, and later my conviction was reversed.
**Returning to school, during 1961-1964 I organized the University of Chicago Law School chapter of the Law Students Civil Rights Research Council (LSCRRC), sending internes to the South during the summer and producing research back-up for civil rights lawyers in the South.
**In 1964, I became the first full-time intern for LSCRRC in the law offices of African-American Civil Rights Attorney Floyd Bixler McKissick, McKissick & Burke, in Durham, NC.
**In 1965 and for the next five years or so, I worked in the Office of Economic Opportunity programs for Legal Services for the Poor, in Oakland, CA, in Delano, CA (with Cesar Chavez's Farmworkers organizing efforts), and elsewhere. During these years, I spent part of each summer in the South, either Mississippi or Louisiana, with the Lawyers Constitutional Defense Committee (LCDC).
**After 1971, I worked on the rights of jail inmates, and in the women's movement, and the movement for the rights of gays, Native Americans, the disabled, and other movements.
**In 1973, I traveled to Taiwan to adopt my first son, a Chinese orphan whom I named Steven Chou Silver. Three years later, I was surprised and delighted to find myself pregnant, and bore my second son, Jefferson Chou Frensley Silver. I raised both as a single, working mother. I still adore them, both, and also my two grandsons, Destin and Reeves.
**In 1975 I began my political career, and from 1977 to 1989 was elected to three terms as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. I ran unsuccessfully for congress in 1996, and after paying off my deficit, retired from politics.
**In 2001, with the help of historian David Lisker, I organized a 40th Reunion in Jackson, Mississippi of the 1961 Freedom Riders. It was the first effort to bring together all of the over-400 people who comprised the Freedom Riders of 1961. About half of those still alive came to the reunion, held at Tougaloo College in Jackson, Mississippi.
**In 2002, less than a year after the attack on America on 9/11/2001, I flew to Afghanistan on a citizens' diplomacy mission to see what Americans could do to help the Afghan people, even as America was still retaliating against Afghanistan for the 9/11 attack. In talks with local Afghans, I became convinced that Education, particularly of women and girls, was (and is) the answer. This has been the focus since then of three organizations which I have created or co-founded.
**In 2004 I attended the 40th Memorial Service in Neshoba County, Mississippi, for the three civil rights workers slain in 1963, Chaney, Goodman & Schwerner.
**In 2008, I was appointed by the Sheriff of San Francisco as Director of the Prisoner Legal Services Program, which provides civilian legal assistance to prisoners in the San Francisco County Jail. Most of these prisoners are minority, and most are incarcerated for drugs.
**In 2009, when my work in the jails caused me to realize just how bad, how cruel, how absurd, are the drug laws of California and of the United States, I quit and took retirement from my job as Director of Prisoner Legal Services. These laws have created a prison system filled with black men and women, suffering from a revived form of the Jim Crow discrimination which I had fought as a Freedom Rider.
**In 2011, I participated in the 50th anniversary reunions of the Freedom Riders, including being a guest on the Oprah Winfrey show in Chicago and returning to visit Parchman Penetentiary during the reunion in Jackson, Mississippi.
**In 2012, I was encouraged to publish my 50-years-ago Diary, which I kept while in jail and prison as a Freedom Rider, and which I was able to smuggle out on scraps of paper and the backs of envelopes.
Copyright © 2012