Unless you have been sleeping under a rock for the past couple of days, you are probably well aware of the passing of Steve Jobs, the former CEO of Apple. On yesterday, he lost his ongoing battle with cancer, a disease that has been responsible for taking the lives of many great and women who have made a great impact on our society. He will go down as a legend of technology as he has created many devices which have made life much better for many citizens around the world by creating: the iPod, iPad, iPhone, the Apple computer, and other great products.
However, what you may not know is that there were 2 other great men that have made an impact on this country that also lost their lives yesterday: Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and Derrick Bell.
Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth was an icon during the Civil Rights movement and was a co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other leaders. He spent most of his life fighting for civil rights despite death threats, bombings, and severe beatings. In Dr. King’s 1963 book “Why Can’t We Wait”, he coined Shuttlesworth “as one of the nation’s greatest freedom fighters.”
It is partly, because of his work that we have many of the opportunities that we have to go to good schools and get well pay jobs to make the wages to buy the luxuries that we would not have had the opportunity to buy just a couple of decades ago. He was 82.
Derrick Bell who also lost a battle with cancer was a law professor who is best known for his work in critical race theory. Critical race theory is a scholarly approach that studies race, racism, and power. It also examines how racism is embedded in laws and legal institutions. Bell was a man who knew the difference between what is right and wrong, and was not afraid to give up prestigious positions at top institutions in the country when he felt the presence of injustice. In 1971, Bell became the first tenured African American at Harvard Law School, but resigned after he felt he had been discriminated against when a university Vice President tried to buy a house that had been offered to him by the university.
He also resigned from the position of Dean of University of Oregon School of Law when an Asian professor was denied tenure.
This is just a brief example of the achievements and sacrifices that were made in our country by two great men who worked tirelessly to make sure that all Americans have free and equal rights in this country. Their work must not be forgotten.
May Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, Derrick Bell, and Steve Jobs all Rest in Peace.