Civil Rights

Civil Rights March


To make the ideological break complete, Osheroff moved in 1956 from New York to the Los Angeles beach community of Venice. He battled real estate development on the Venice canals. He traveled to Mississippi for the Freedom Summer, where his car was firebombed the night he arrived. He signed on as a part-time instructor at UCLA, where he taught a class on the Spanish Civil War.

Howard Zinn, the revisionist Boston University historian who wrote A People's History of the United States, met Osheroff during the "Freedom Summer" of 1964, when Osheroff was building houses and churches for black people in Mississippi.

One of the things that impressed me was he was not a dogmatist; he was not simply an apologist for everything the left did, Zinn said. He was still a radical, but he was not going to be hemmed in by ideology.

Unlike some disillusioned Communists, Osheroff did not reject progressivism altogether, said Howard Gale, a psychologist who met Osheroff a year ago in the Seattle anti-war movement.

It's a mark of both courage and integrity, Gale said.  It's easy to view things in black and white terms.  The willingness to be critical not just about other things but about the very things you believe in -- that's a trait that everyone admires in him.