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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.



"You probably don't remember this occasion, but you were at our house one day and we were talking about different things, and some how you realized we were ashamed of the way we lived, the homes we lived in, the run down furniture we had, and the overall poverty situation we were all in. You told us that we had nothing to be ashamed of and that it wasn't our fault the way we lived, and you went on to explain why. We were very cautious of you because you were white, and could not understand why someone like you would care whether we lived or died. But after that talk, all fears were gone and for the first time in my life I felt like I was somebody. I participated in the Poor People’s March in 1967, and graduated from Como High School in 1968. I went into the Army in 1969, and to Viet Nam in 1970. I am now married and live in Cleveland, Ohio. I have told all of my children over the years how much you inspired me to go out in to the world and learn everything I can about myself and my people. You made me love myself, and that was the best  thing you could have done not only for me, but for any human being." 

(Larry Taylor)

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