Judy Frieze Wright was born in 1939 and raised in Newton, Massachusetts. Her grandmother was a leftist activist who was investigated by Senator Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Affairs Committee in the 1950s.
Wright was drawn to the civil rights movement in 1961, during her senior year at Smith college, when she heard about the sit-ins taking place in the South. Although she had not been particularly political before, she was moved by the news and inspired to join the movement. After graduation, Wright joined the Freedom Rides with CORE (Congress of Racial Equality), traveling across the south in a mixed-race group to desegregate public facilities in bus stations. Their group was arrested in Jackson, Mississippi, and Wright spent six weeks in a maximum security prison.
After her release from jail, Wright returned to Boston for graduate school. During this time, she helped to organize the Boston contingent of the March on Washington and gave many speeches about her experience with the Freedom Rides. Immediately after getting married in 1964, Wright and her husband went to work for the civil rights movement in Meridian, Mississippi. They lived there for a year, registering blacks to vote, holding sit-ins, teaching at a freedom school, and helping to organize the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.
In addition to her work in the civil rights movement, Wright was also involved in antiwar activities, such as draft counseling, and the women's movement, organizing consciousness-raising groups. She also raised two children during this time. For the past ten years, Wright has worked for the AIDS Action Committee.