I was 15 when I took part in my first demonstration. I joined CORE (Los Angeles) in 1962 and found myself on demonstrations, boycott campaigns, picket lines, sit-ins, and in jail. I felt I was not doing enough to change the system and decided to go south, to be on "the front line" of the struggle.
I was with COFO in the Greenville area working on voter registration, the MFDP, and other local issues from June-August, 1964 and fortunate to work with Charlie Cobb.
SNCC had gone through major debates concerning Freedom Summer. Once the summer was over and most of the northerners were going home, I felt it would be criminal for me to leave. So I stayed.
From September 1964 to January 1965, I did community work on local issues and worked in the literacy program in McComb. When I did leave Mississippi, I felt disheartened because it seemed like little had changed although, in fact, Mississippi would never be the same.
It was a lesson I have never forgotten. Every thing we do makes a difference, whether we see its impacts or not. Not until the 30-year reunion of Freedom Summer was I able to fill the hole I felt in my heart for leaving Mississippi.
I had already committed myself to "the movement" before going to Mississippi but Mississippi cemented that commitment. "After Mississippi", I have been involved in many areas of struggle, all with the purpose of ending a system built on racism, classism and sexism.
The struggle against oppression, greed and injustice was not a chapter of my life; it is my life.