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 became more serious when, as a freshman at UC Santa Barbara in the Fall of 1964, he heard Rev. Hosea Williams 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), a Southern Christian Leadership Conference (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.
Today, Lanny and his wife Rondia are members of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee of Ventura County. This all-volunteer group has produced annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day events since 1986. He is also an adult advisor for the Ojai Valley Youth Foundation’s student-led Martin Luther King Day Committee, 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 he had in 1965-66 in the Civil Rights Movement, his subsequent involvement in nonviolent social actions in the peace and environmental movements, and the music that accompanied those movements are the subjects of his musical multimedia presentation for schools, colleges, and community groups called “Martin Luther King and the Spirit of the ‘60s.”
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: