Mark Satin

COFO, SNCC, 1964-65, Mississippi
P.O. Box 70188
Oakland, CA 94612
Web Site:

The Three Committees

I just now discovered this site because the Google search engine alerted me to the picture of me on your "Volunteers" page (sixth from bottom). I am stunned, overwhelmed — I hadn't seen photos of fellow c.r. workers for 40 years. God bless you for creating this site.

I had just turned 18 when I joined the Holly Springs, MS SNCC/COFO staff — graduated from segregated S.H. Rider High School (Wichita Falls, TX) less than a year earlier, some students routinely drew Confederate flags on blackboards there, most thought "the Negros are not ready" — dropped out of U. of Illinois to go to Mississippi because I couldn't stand being in school while so much ugliness reigned in our land — and I was definitely as determined / angry / confused as I look in that picture. Had to laugh, seeing the typewriter — I've been writing in movement & nonprofit offices ever since. The people I met & experiences I had in MS helped make me that way.

I wrote about those experiences with what I felt was total honesty in my book Confessions of a Young Exile (Toronto: Gage/Macmillan of Canada, 1976), Chap. 3. A lot of angry and complex feelings, mine and others', is explored in Chap. 3. My mixed motives are explored. I do not remember my time in MS with unalloyed pleasure. But I'm glad I went.

I have never completely abandoned the person you see in that photograph. In the late 1960s I helped create the Toronto Anti-Draft Programme & wrote an "underground bestseller," Manual for Draft-Age Immigrants to Canada. Later came New Age Politics: Healing Self and Society (Dell, 1979) and a national political organization based on those ideas. Then helped start the U.S. Green party and helped write its founding document, "Ten Key Values." Now am the proud editor of the on-line "Radical Middle Newsletter" and author of Radical Middle: The Politics We Need Now (Westview, 2004), which won "Outstanding Book Award 2004" from the Section on Ecological & Transformational Politics of the American Political Science Association. The first paragraph on p. 91 is about an embarrassing (for me) incident at the Holly Springs SNCC/COFO office.

So the last 40 years has been an enormous journey. But sometimes I close my eyes and feel I'm still typing up people's letters to "the Authorities" or registering voters or setting up a library & teaching the occasional English or History class in Holly Springs. Strange; haunting; deep.

UPDATE: Ten years have now passed since I created this page in 2005, and much has changed. I have moved from Washington DC to Oakland CA, initially to reconcile with my 86-year-old father, who had all but disowned me after I went to Mississippi. I am in love! I am rapidly losing my eyesight to diabetic retinopathy — a result, my doctor suspects, of my dreadful "activist's diet" from ages 18-36 (young activists, please take note). Did I mention that I am in love? Most pertinent to this website, I have just completed a short story about my experiences in Mississippi, and have posted it online as my contribution to the deep truth-telling that needs to take place now, by people of all races, if this nation is ever to become healthy and whole.

Copyright ©
(Labor donated)