James Kates born in 1945, in White Plains, New York, volunteered for the Mississippi Summer Project after his freshman year at Wesleyan University, and spent that summer helping to implement a special court order encouraging voter registration in Panola County. In the fall of 1964, he organized a Friends of SNCC/COFO in Paris, France, to support the work of the American civil-rights movement. He returned to Mississippi in 1965, working in Natchez, and later became a public school teacher, a nonviolence trainer for interpersonal and political movements, a poet and a literary translator. Since 1997, he has co-directed the non-profit literary publishing house Zephyr Press, publishers of Letters from Mississippi: Reports from Civil Rights Volunteers & Poetry of the 1964 Freedom Summer. A contributor to the anthologies What Does It Mean to Be White in America? and Black Lives Have Always Mattered, he is also a member of the Veterans of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement.