Lanny Kaufer is a musician, songwriter, retired high school teacher, and part-time university professor from Ojai, CA. The son of a Holocaust refugee, he was raised to respect all cultures and to stand up against prejudice and discrimination. Lanny has a long history as a non-violent social activist which began with his participation in the Free Speech Movement on University of California campuses in 1964.
His commitment to social change took on a broader scope when, as a freshman at UC Santa Barbara in the Fall of 1964, he heard a Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) representative speak about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s new voter registration project scheduled for the summer of ’65. Lanny volunteered for the SCOPE Project (Summer Community Organization and Political Education), an SCLC program designed to educate, organize, and register voters in the South just as the Voting Rights Act was passed.
Lanny served in southern Virginia where he was fortunate to meet and shake hands with Dr. King after hearing one of his speeches. The local SCOPE Project in which Lanny worked was able to extend the hours of voter registration, register voters, and establish an Improvement Association that is still going strong today. He was greatly inspired by the courage and determination of the local African-American community who took great risks to earn the right to vote. He also experienced firsthand the dangerous harassment they had endured throughout the Jim Crow era.
Today, Lanny is a member of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee of Ventura County and he and his wife Rondia are adult advisors to the Ojai Valley Youth Foundation’s MLK Day Committee. He is also an associate member of Veterans for Peace, and a member and supporter of Greenpeace, the Native American Rights Fund, the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy, and several other organizations dedicated to peace, social justice, and environmental restoration.
The experiences Lanny had in 1965-66 in the SCOPE Project and the music that accompanied the Civil Rights Movement and helped to motivate his involvement are the subjects of his musical multimedia presentations for schools, colleges, and community groups: “Martin Luther King and the Spirit of the ‘60s” and “My Summer Working for Martin Luther King, Jr.”
Lanny is listed in the Veterans Roll Call on the Civil Rights Movement Veterans website at www.crmvet.org/vet/vethome.htm – vets-k. His article on the UC Santa Barbara SCOPE Project is at www.crmvet.org/nars/kaufer1.htm.
Other Internet links about Lanny Kaufer: