Frank Soracco
(1935 — 2020 )

SNCC, SCLC, 1964-68, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia

I just kind of lucked into the movement. I had just been fired from a teaching job for helping some high school students protest a book- banning from their library. One of the students invited me to a far- left unification conference in San Francisco. It was boring but I was listening to this SNCC guy, Reggie Robinson, do his dog and pony show. After his speech Reggie was walking out of the building and asked me for a smoke.

I was out, but we walked up the street to get some. He told me that the other thing he had to do was to try to get the Calif. Democratic Party to back the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party's challenge of the regular Mississippi Democratic Party at the National convention in Atlantic City later in the year.

I had a car and Reggie didn't. We hooked up with Mike Miller who was the Friends of SNCC guy in S.F. Frank Smith, another SNCC Field Secretary showed up and we were able to get the Calif. Democrats to back the Mississippi Freedom Democrats. Frank Smith then sent me off to Colorado, Oregon and Washington to do the same thing, and we did.

I then returned to S.F. to help Mike organize a conference to recruit volunteers for a Summer of 1965. The conference was a huge success but there never was a summer of '65 like the summer of '64.

I was then off to Atlanta. SNCC & SCLC were preparing to head into Selma and they sent me as part of the SNCC bunch. I was paired with Jim Bevel [of SCLC] to organize one of the 5 wards in Selma. Bevel was a big shot, so I did most of the work and I am proud to say that people from our ward always made up more than half of of the people who showed up for mass meetings and demonstrations.

I don't remember how many times I was arrested. Andy Young put me incharge of selecting the 25 people from around the world who came to march in the Selma to Montgomery march. (The first few day of the march we were only allowed 300 marchers so selection became an issue.) I served as a marshal for the entire march.

Since I had a teaching credential they asked me to go to Mississippi to work in the first Head Start Program. They paid real money. I got $150/week which was a tad more than the $10/week I was getting before. Took my first pay check and a friend to New Orleans for a long weekend and ate in all the best places in town and drank good gin which was a tad better than the moonshine a local black bootlegger kept me supplied with in Selma.

After the six weeks of the Head Start program ended Julian asked me to come help run his try for the Georgia House of Represenatives. We stomped the opposition by getting over 80% of the vote.

Jim Bevel asked me to go to Chicago to help SCLC with their venture there. Was there for over a year. I then returned to California where I entered a business with my brother in Marina del Rey. All I can say is that L.A. has been very very good to me.

My years in THE MOVEMENT are still the best in a long, varied & adventitious life.



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