Luis Zapata

Mississippi Freedom Labor Union, SNCC, COFO, 1963-67
Current Residence: Silver Spring, MD
Phone: 301-325-6754

My Homage to Mandela's Life

I was working in CA with United Farm Workers (Cesar Chavez) when COFO (SNCC) asked for volunteers with union organizing. (I was the only one raise my hand.) They were starting the Mississippi Freedom Labor Union (MFLU) out of Cleveland, MS. MS was certainly different than CA, but as I soon became aware, it was essentially the same struggle.

As it always was in the Southern Freedom Struggle, the work was not all MFLU organizing although that was a big part. We all worked on voter registration, and the Democratic Party Challenge, etc. Everybody did everything (including going to jail). There are, of course, thousands of MS stories I could tell, but they would fill a book so I'll skip them for now. I will say it was a good foundation for my political career and a great education in grass-roots organizing.

My activities since have including working: in Grenada during the revolution; in Chiapas, Mexico, for the Sanctuary movement across the States, on Native American Issues; on numerous progressive political campaigns; and with so many movements I have really lost count. The struggle goes on at all levels, and I always try to bear in mind the saying, "When the people lead, the leaders will follow."


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