Her name was Miriam Flacks, but everyone knew her as Mickey Flacks, a mentor to many and an outspoken advocate who believed in fair housing, protecting the environment and building the Santa Barbara County Democratic Party.
“This weekend, Mickey was to have received the Democratic Visionary Lifetime Achievement Award at our now postponed Roosevelt-Hamer Dinner. This award has only been given once before,” said Gail Teton-Landis, chair of the SBCDP. “We were fortunate enough to put together a video which Mickey was able to view before her death at the age of 80 at Serenity House.”
Among those paying tribute to Ms. Flacks were Susan Rose, Daraka Larimore-Hall, Joan Hartman, Rob Fredericks, Hannah-Beth Jackson and Goerge Eskin.
“Mickey Flacks was a force of nature for justice and fairness in our community. I always appreciated and respected Mickey’s passion and commitment to issues surrounding social justice. Never did she waiver, and although we occasionally disagreed on approach, she was a close personal friend, mentor and adviser. She was certainly the conscience of our community, and her voice and presence will be greatly missed,” added Ms. Jackson, who represented Santa Barbara County in the California State Senate.
Ms. Rose, a former member of the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, wrote in an email: “Mickey and I shared many things — love of family, holiday dinners and a strong belief in liberal politics. Unknown I think is the fact that Mickey volunteered behind the scenes in many local campaigns. In my case, she was my data diva recording info on all my supporters. I will miss her.”
Ms. Flacks and her husband, Richard Flacks, well-known emeritus professor of sociology at UCSB, co-authored the book, “Making History/Making Blintzes: How Two Red Diaper Babies Found Each Other and Discovered America,” in 2018. It was published by Rutgers University Press.
“Both grew up as Red Diaper babies — children of Communists — who were key co-players in the founding of SDS. The title refers to the careful balancing act they figured out between being activists (making history) and having a rewarding personal and family life (making blintzes),” according to a review of the book on Amazon.com.
Ms. Flacks, who was a researcher in biology and co-author of “Children of a Vanished World,” was born in the Bronx to cosmopolitan parents who immigrated to the United States in the teens and 1920s. Her parents worked in the garment industry, and her mother was a union organizer, according to www.activistvideoarchive.org.
While attending Bronx High School, Ms. Flacks worked tirelessly after school in a campaign to save the Rosenbergs from execution, and she was a member of the Labor Youth League, a descendant of the Young Communist League.
Summers were spent at Jewish Summer Camps in the Catskills, where she became president of her camp and editor of the daily one sheet the camp published partly in Yiddish. It was there, at the age of 16, she met Dick Flacks.
They married while Ms. Flacks was attending City College of New York, and Mr. Flacks was doing graduate work at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She joined Women’s Strike for Peace, which she believed was the first stirring of the second wave of feminism in the U.S.
When Mr. Flacks took a position at the University of Chicago, both became outspoken anti-activists. Ms. Flacks took part in the demonstrations during the 1968 convention in Chicago, ferrying injured activists from Grant Park to the hospital.
A life-altering attack on Mr. Flacks in his office at the University of Chicago spurred them to accept an offer for him to teach at UCSB. They moved to Santa Barbara in 1969 with their two children.
Ms. Flacks immediately assumed the role of community activist, testifying hundreds of times before the City Council over the decades. She also served on the Santa Barbara County Housing Authority Board.
Ms. Flacks is survived by her husband, sons Charles Wright Flacks and Marc Ajay Flacks and six grandchildren.
A community celebration of her life is planned after the end of the COVID-19 containment.