Skip PBS navigation bar, and jump to content.
Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS

The Film & More
Film Description
Primary Sources
Further Reading

Special Features
People & Events
Teacher's Guide

spacer above content
Primary Sources

return to primary sources index

  Mizmoon's Path to the S.L.A. Previous
2 of 4

In 1976, Fred Soltysik published In Search of a Sister, his account of his sister Patricia's entanglement with the Symbionese Liberation Army. Patricia, who would change her name to "Mizmoon," was born in 1950 and grew up in a large, Catholic family in Santa Barbara, California. She got A's on her report cards, worried about her weight, and was the student body treasurer of her high school.

Patricia entered the University of California at Berkeley in 1968, embarking on a path that would lead her to a fiery death. Mizmoon would be one of the six S.L.A. members killed in a shootout with Los Angeles police in 1974, during the time Patty Hearst was with the S.L.A.

This excerpt from Soltysik's book sketches the first steps his sister took to becoming a member of the S.L.A.

...Before Pat left for school, I talked to her about Berkeley... I'd spent most of my university weekends there, witnessing the carnival of freaks pacing up and down Telegraph Avenue: fake gurus, Hari Krishna converts chanting their mantras, acid heads, pot heads, Hell's Angels bikers. The street zombies were as much a part of the scene as Sproul Hall. A good number of them openly retailed hashish and pot, in addition to their grab-bag hallucinogens...

At Berkeley, Pat elected to live off campus... Her own severest critic, she... suffered from an over-sharpened sense of honesty... I suspected that my sister was experiencing the usual freshman Berkeley blues: too many people, too little sleep, and not enough time to perform up to her own expectations... After classes she continued to work eight hours a day at her work-study job...

At first Pat was jubilant over the apparent success with which Berkeley residents had transformed a university parking lot into a park.... the mood didn't last, though. A bitter clash between police and park supporters left one dead, many injured. Berkeley suddenly became what Pat called "a very heavy place to be right now..."

The People's Park experience provided Pat with a mini-scenario of the larger struggle, the fight against the Vietnam war... Pat's sophomore year... also marked the beginning of her more than casual interest in the feminist movement. Just as the young blacks in the United States had divided into polar groups, so had the feminists cleaved the women... She needed time to internalize the feminist views, the most significant of those being that women constitute an oppressed group.

Gradually, Pat accepted that view and translated the vision into a personal statement of independence. No longer was she going to pander to the expectations of chauvinist males...

In September 1971 my brother, Steve, arrived... The news he brought about Pat was far from encouraging...Pat was smoking grass far too often; much more, in any case, than the average college student... And not just pot. Apparently she'd taken mescaline on several occasions... [Steve said] "She's not going to school this year..."

[I wrote and] asked her what happened to her plans of becoming a lawyer. I argued that a woman without a B.A. inevitably gets the [expletive] jobs... I recall one line in her reply, and one line only. It read, "Sisters, none of us are free until we are all free..."

In [a letter from July of 1972], she announced that she'd changed her name to Mizmoon... Something was happening in Berkeley. First she had dropped out of school, and then, nine months later, she had picked a new name...

"Do you call her Pat?" [I asked my mother.]

"No," Mom smiled, "when she calls she's very quick to correct us..."

"Mom, what's she doing in Berkeley?"

"Working at the city library."

"A librarian?"

"No, a janitor."

"A janitor!" I shook my head in disbelief. "I thought she wanted to go to law school."

"She still talks about it sometimes," she said, handing me another letter...

[Mizmoon's letter read:] "Having become a worker, Momma, I've started to see how [expletive] over we get by capitalistic employers. Not that other systems don't exploit their workers too. We just do a super smooth job..."

Excerpt from Soltysik, Fred. In Search of a Sister. New York: Bantam, 1976, pp. 21-35.

  Mizmoon's Path to the S.L.A. Previous
2 of 4
page created on 2.16.05 back to top
Site Navigation

The Film & More: Film Description | Transcript |  Primary Sources |  Further Reading | Acknowledgements

Guerrilla Home | The Film & More | Special Features | Timeline
Gallery | People & Events | Teacher's Guide

American Experience | Feedback | Search | Shop | Subscribe | Web Credits

© New content 1997-2005 PBS Online / WGBH

Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst American Experience

Exclusive Corporate Funding is provided by: