"The belief that individuals can have an impact on larger societal issues
was instilled in me from a young age."
My parents, Tom and Brenda Mock, met in high school and were in the 1st graduating class of La Sierra High School in 1959. They married and started a family while my father attended UC Berkeley when tuition was just a simple payment of fees, not the massive financial burden it is now. My parents managed an apartment complex to stretch the financial support from their parents. Building neighbors included graduate students Ron and Roscoe Dellums, long before Ron was the "honorable Congressman" from Oakland. Their friendship exposed them to a deeper experience of civil disobedience, particularly the Civil Rights and Free Speech movements. Somewhere in the crowd watching Mario Savio during the demonstration pictured on the right was my father with my sister on his shoulders.
I followed in my father's footsteps and graduated from UC Berkeley as well. Like Dad, I was affected by the student body's climate encouraging students to speak out: apartheid, rising tuition costs, police behavior on and off campus. That early activism followed me into my professional life, working with and for individuals living with HIV/AIDS, mental illness, drug-dependency, unstable housing, domestic violence and homelessness. As a wife and mother, I see that my community is struggling and know that we can make change here.
In 1975, as a young girl I worked side by side with my parents driving across the state helping to collect the nearly 600,000 signatures needed to put Prop 15 -The California Nuclear Safeguards Initiative- on the June 1976 ballot. I vividly remember standing in front of a Safeway explaining why nuclear power should be more regulated to an older gentleman. He listened patiently, told me nicely that eight year olds did not make the most convincing arguments but that he would sign my petition since I was so polite.
We lost anyway. Months later, we watched the election returns and I was crestfallen when the initiative went down 33% to 67%. It just had not occurred to me that we would lose after working so hard on the campaign beyond signature gathering- participating in spectacularly choreographed marches at the Capital and downtown San Francisco, demonstrations at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratories, raising funds and awareness. I even had my first press interview on the steps of the Capital after we presented the symbolic box of signatures to a young Governor Jerry Brown.
As I grew up watching California's nuclear power plants shut down, I marveled that even a losing campaign could become a long-term winner. It showed me the ultimate power of voices joined to create change.
My family is a union family. I knew the word "union" long before I understood what it meant and well before I understood that all workers benefit from the unions whether or not they are represented by a bargaining unit. My grandfather, George Mock, was a respected union organizer here in Sacramento and across the state. He was influential in the organizing of such companies as Del Monte and Frito Lay. He left school in the 7th grade to help his father, a teamster with 10 mules. He ended his long and distinguished career with a reputation that was the envy of his peers- both within his union family and outside and the respect of his opponents.
Grandpa George was a tall Swede with a firm handshake who staked his reputation on keeping his word as his bond. I inherited both traits from him.