Sunday, May 31, 2009

In memoriam

Ronald Takaki, professor emeritus of ethnic studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and a preeminent scholar of U.S. race relations who taught the University of California's first black history course, died at his home in Berkeley on Tuesday, May 26, at age 70.

Ronald Takaki was a generous soul and very much a hero to me. He has been on the front lines of ethnic studies since the beginning, he wrote the classic history textbook, A Different Mirror, and he never stopped teaching and pushing the dialogue on race in America.

Wesleyan students have been trying for years to institute a true ethnic studies major program, with little success. They did manage to snag Takaki as a speaker while I was a senior. A packed audience was hanging on his every word. I'll always remember the moment when he told us that "students have agency." I was so honored to shake his hand.

Do yourself a favor and check out his books, they're fantastic and very accessible.

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