Thursday, October 06, 2011

Three Giants Leave the Stage

This is a day for sober reflection. In short order the US — and the world — has lost three giants: Steve Jobs, Fred Shuttlesworth, and Derrick Bell. All were men of vision and principle who persevered through defeat and emerged triumphant.

Steve Jobs' succinct and memorable 2005 commencement address at Stanford University was just on WCPN 90.3/FM [NPR]. I suggest that whatever your current stage of life, you take 15 minutes to listen to perhaps the best such talk I have ever heard. The talk consists of three deeply personal stories — one on birth, one on life, one on death. They are honest, vivid, and gut-grabbing.

I went looking for the link on NPR at the request of my wife, who wanted it for her SAGES course on Movers and Shakers at Case Western Reserve University, but my friend Ken Lumpkin sent me a twofer: both the text and video are here.

Derrick Bell was a pioneer legal scholar and activist who consistently forsook personal gain for the greater good. He gave up privileged positions because he knew his sacrifices would benefit those who would come after him.

Perhaps he was inspired by the example of Fred Shuttlesworth, who as a young minister in 1950s Birmingham, Alabama repeatedly put himself in harm's way to protest the US apartheid system and to agitate for a new society.

Who among us could not learn from these giants?

No comments: