Devoted civil libertarian and ACLU of Ohio board member David Shevin passed away unexpectedly July 19, 2010. He was buried in his hometown of Rochester, New York.
Dave was an English professor and director of the honors program at Central State University. David believed the power of education had to be matched by the power of advocacy. His leadership of the honors program at Central State was an emblem of his belief that Central State students deserved to have an honors program and deserved to be inspired to be their absolute best.
Dave joined the ACLU Board of Directors in 2005, after many years as a local activist with the ACLU Miami Valley Working Group. He assisted in organizing civil liberties education programs in his community and on campus.
In 2007 Dave was appointed to the organization’s Nominating Committee, and chaired the committee in 2010. Of his work with the organization, he noted, “The ACLU work is one of the most fulfilling things that I do, as students and colleagues around me can attest daily.”
Dave was especially passionate about free speech, racial justice and opposition to the death penalty.
ACLU of Ohio National Board Representative Scott Greenwood paid tribute to Dave: “More than anyone else among us, David walked the rich walk of diversity. It wasn't abstract to him. He completely understood and embraced it. David, in word and in deed, represented the very best of us. He brought a rigorous and inclusive approach to leadership.”
Even while Dave took his leadership responsibilities very seriously, he was always ready to entertain his colleagues with a joke or captivating quotation.
He was a notable poet, having published a number of books of poetry, including “Three Miles from Luckey” and “Needles and Needs.”
One of Dave’s poetry fans noted in a book review: “His genius, humor, and social conscience resonate through each page.” We at the ACLU can say the same of our time with him. We will miss him deeply.
The family has suggested memorials to the New Israel Fund, 1101 14th St., N.W., Sixth Floor, Washington, DC 20005, or to the ACLU of Ohio Foundation, 4506 Chester Ave., Cleveland, Ohio 44103.
Below is a poem written by Dave Shevin which was published in The Cortland Review in Issue 4, August 1998.
Sabbath Queen smiled on Sandusky Bay
and clouds broke over the rainbow painted
silo caps. Something was shaking
at the UAW hall — cars poured in
and travel itself was traveling. Poets
converged on the downtown cafe.
The evening owned itself, and the lake
drank its own water. How perfect
the happiness bathing the moment,
a new landspeed record for grace
to the heart. In a more private place
Lucien was moving to her first private flat
at last. Five years since she immunized
the children in the health campaigns,
and seven since service (El Chile, Matagalpa)
during the literacy campaigns — where
her older friend Nestor was disappeared
before he could write the summary letters —
and now the cool North air, the plenty
and clean water of Ohio becomes the scene
where she can unpack the Victoria crate,
place her family and her father's Chinese
inscription to her very own plaster.
Every day we find ways to mind over
what matters. "I have my own house,"
she burbles into the telephone to one
who sheltered her frantic, "illegal"
arrival. "Oh, you must know how exciting
I am in my place!" Near the house where
she grew, in shadow of broadcast antenna
(Radio Sandino now a Católica station)
a teachers strike mounts a mobilization,
and this time the demand isn't wages,
it's books. Back from vacation (the beach,
Costa Rica) her parents reopen the housefront
cafe. On shimmering wire, their daughter
sounds clear and so happy. For this
is a night when a generous world
embraces its scattered and farflung children,
a night when grown children permitted
to play among one another embrace or
make love or find hope or gather blessings
for another morning, or another.
El alma es como una muchacha
besuqueada detras de un auto,
sings the cardenal, on one branch
then another, momentarily. It's night
that one can imagine the needed books
will arrive, somewhere South. For these
blessed children — safe with their posessions —
may be scattered and different as fingerprints
but they have their boxes with them
in rooms that seem safe and private
and wind blows as cool as a lemon, and sweet.