David Kotz

CORE, COFO, Mississippi, 1964
Current Residence:
18 Pilgrim Drive
Northampton, MA 01060
Email: dmkotz@econs.umass.edu
Phone: 413-584-2547

I was a summer volunteer in the Mississippi summer project (later referred to as the Mississippi Freedom Summer) in the summer of 1964. I worked in Meridian, MS, that summer. The umbrella organization for the Summer Project was the Council of Federated Organizations, or COFO.

I worked on what we called the "political project" — that is, helping to organize the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP). This involved talking to people about the MFDP and its challenge to the regular Democratic Party organization of Mississippi, organizing precinct meetings and our county convention of the MFDP. I also went to the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, NJ, to lobby for the MFDP delegation.

At the start of the summer of 1964, I rode in a station wagon to Meridian from the orientation session in Oxford, Ohio, with Jimmy Chaney, Andy Goodman, and Micky Schwerner, and four other summer volunteers. The next day Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner went to neighboring Neshoba County to investigate the burning of Mt. Zion Church near Philadelphia, MS. After their capture and murder by Deputy Sheriff Price and others, a new project director, Bob Gore, was sent to replace Micky Schwerner, and we went on with our work aimed at abolishing the evil system of racial segregation and the oppression and violence that were part of it.

My participation in the Mississippi Summer Project, and particularly my experience working with African-American people in Mississippi who were rising up against their oppression despite the risks and costs of doing so, changed the course of my life. I became committed to working for a different and better world, one with racial equality, economic justice, and peace.

By the summer of 1964 I had finished three years of college. After that summer, I returned to college and became an activist in Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). From 1964-71 I was more or less a full-time activist in the anti-Vietnam War movement and the broader movement to bring basic change to the U.S. and the world, in Cambridge, MA; New Haven, CT; and Berkeley, CA.

In 1975 I finished graduate school in economics at U.C. Berkeley, and since 1978 I have been a professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. I teach courses in Marxist economic theory, comparative economic systems, U.S. economic history, and macroeconomics. I write, for both general and academic audiences, about problems of the US economy, the demise of the Soviet Union and problems of the Russian economy, and socialist alternatives to capitalism.

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