Maria Varela (Black Culture Connection ~ PBS)
Learning from Expperience (SNCC Digital Gateway)
In 1962 I was recruited by Casey Hayden to work in the SNCC office. I arrived in the summer of 1963 only to have these plans waylaid by Frank Smith and Bernard Lafayette who felt I was needed more in Selma. The French Canadian pastor of St. Elizabeth's was supportive of SNCC and wanted a voter literacy project to help prepare people to vote. The full story is in Hands on the Freedom Plow. My SNCC photo's have been used in various books and exhibited across the country.
In 1967 Julian Bond introduced me to Southwest Land Grant Leader Reies Lopez Tijerina who recruited me to work with him in New Mexico. I worked with Mexicano and Native livestock growers and artisans from 1968-1997 to preserve land, water and culture while increasing family income. From 1990-2013 I was a visiting professor at the University of New Mexico and The Colorado College in Colorado Springs. Today I work with community groups working on environmental justice issues and continue to speak, write and teach about the lessons of the 1960's civil rights movement.