Activist Video Archive

Preserving progressive, multicultural voices of Los Angeles area activists and philanthropists.

Preserving progressive, multicultural voices of Los Angeles area activists and philanthropists.

Mickey Flacks

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Mickey is a red diaper baby born in the Bronx to cosmopolitan parents who immigrated to the U.S. in the teens and 1920’s. She grew up in the milieu of foreign born, Yiddish speaking leftists who believed in education, trade unionism and in keeping their Jewish/Yiddish culture and identity intact. Her parents worked in the garment industry and her mother was a union organizer at a time when there were two competing Communist Led unions in the garment trade. Even before Mickey was born, her mother had to quit work because of diminishing eye sight.

Mickey was educated both in secular schools, in Shul, and a social education in Jewish Summer Camps in the Catskills. It was in these Summer Camps that she thrived, and became both the President of her camp and the editor of the daily one sheet the camp published, partly in Yiddish.

At 13, she worked tirelessly after school in a campaign to save the Rosenberg’s from execution and Marched in huge May Day parades every year. She was a member of the Labor Youth League which was the descendant of the Young Communist League. She went to Bronx High School and then the City College of New York.

As a counselor at Summer Camp when she was 16, she met Dick Flacks and they laid the groundwork for a lifelong partnership. Already they were talking about remaking a left in the United States that would have meaning for their generation.

They married while Mickey was still finishing City College and Dick was already doing graduate work at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

When she joined Dick in Ann Arbor, it was the first time she had lived in a University town and outside of New York City and the intellectual atmosphere and surroundings were both energizing and intimidating, especially when Dick became involved with SDS, and worked with other SDS leaders to input into the Port Huron Statement that would forever define the “new left.”

It was in Ann Arbor that Mickey joined Women’s Strike for Peace, which she believes was the first stirring of 2nd Wave feminism in the U.S.

Dick took a position at the University of Chicago and both were outspoken Anti-War activists. Mickey took part in the demonstrations during the 68 convention in Chicago, ferrying injured activists from Grant Park to the hospital and providing refuge for Dave Dellinger after he suffered a head injury at the hands of Chicago Police.

The life altering attack on Dick in his office at the University of Chicago spurred them to accept an offer for Dick to teach at the University of California in Santa Barbara. With two children in tow, and Dick still recovering from his grievous injuries, they moved to Santa Barbara in 1969.

Mickey immediately assumed the role of community activist, hosting a weekly salon at their home, working in a lab connected to UCSB, and raising two young children during the most tumultuous years of student activism at the university. As the community slowly changed from one dominated by Real Estate Brokers and Republicans to one of community activists and environmentalists, Mickey was at the forefront of much of the organizational change.

Together, Mickey and Dick have been an activist force in the Santa Barbara community for over forty years.

“Everything that is tearing us down today will become a memory, and this memory will be shared as an anecdote or a story or a poem or a play or a warning. It will be shared with another human being, who will then understand that he is not alone in his sadness. This is why we show up for others and tell our tales and listen to others. The great congregation meets daily, and you are someone’s angel today.”

-Tennessee Williams/Interview with James Grissom

©2019 Sundays Well Productions