I went as an exchange student to Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia for the 1964 spring semester where I worked with the student movement. I also attended Staughton Lynd's seminar on nonviolence. Staughton was to be director of the freedom schools in Mississippi and I was privileged to participate in many discussions about the philosophy behind the freedom schools as well as the philosophy of nonviolence. I volunteered to be a freedom school teacher in the Mississippi Summer Project.
I went to Holly Springs, Mississippi in the summer of 1964 where I taught young women in the freedom school. I am writing about this experience and have been interviewed a number of times. I have two pieces about the summer, plus an annotated bibliography in Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: An Anthology of the Mississippi Civil rights Movement, Susie Erenrich, ed., Black Belt Press, 1999.
In 1967 I began organizing women's groups, first in NYC and the following year, in San Francisco. I taught workshops and seminars on racism and white supremacy for women's liberation groups and conferences and for the YWCA. I collaborated with my first husband, Robert Allen, on Reluctant Reformers: Racism and Social Reform Movements in the United States, Howard University Press, 1974, writing the chapter on the woman suffrage movement. This book has been updated and is still in print.
I find I am now very interested in other people's stories. Most activists have seldom, if ever, told their stories in full and I am convinced we all have a lot to learn from listening to and reading each others' words. Although I myself have benefited greatly from some of the interviews done with me, I do not think being interviewed by professional writers and academics is enough. I've helped to organize reunion gatherings and have led writing workshops for activists. The sharings have been profound and I encourage others to find ways to share their stories.