by Susan Loewen
Dear friends and colleagues of James Loewen:
Stephen Berrey, a professor at the University of Michigan who is continuing Jim’s work on sundown towns, is collecting reflections for Jim’s website justice.tougaloo.edu. If you have reflections on the life and work of Jim Loewen, we invite you to share those by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition to this, there are actions you can take to further the causes that were so central to Jim.
Jim’s memorial will be at All Souls Church Unitarian in Washington, DC, and broadcast live on Zoom. Please wait until after September 20th, to visit all-souls.org for service information.
If you have already received the letter below, please forgive us.
I’m sorry to let you know that on Thursday, August 19, my beloved husband, James Loewen, passed peacefully away with his family by his side. Below is an email he wrote in his final days and intended for you. It has actions for you to take in order to continue Jim’s social justice work. The following words are his own.
— Susan Loewen
“This email treats two subjects: what has happened recently to me physically (medically) and what has happened recently to me professionally. Please don’t hit “reply.” Instead, I invite you to respond with two different one-word email replies to specific others.
Many of you know I have Stage IV muscle-invasive bladder cancer. Two other medical developments have led to repeated hospitalizations, and they will lead to more. These last two issues are: at least one fracture in my back, causing grave pain, and at least one DVT (and other problems with clotty blood) in my legs. These last issues caused me to land in emergency rooms several times and at present put me into Suburban Hospital, just west of Washington, DC. I hope soon to get into a “rehabilitation nursing home,” followed by an assisted living facility, and then perhaps back home. But the last may not occur.
At some point, like most folks, I will of course have a memorial service. If you want to know about this service, when it occurs, please visit all-souls.org [after September 20th]. This does not obligate you to go to the memorial!
At the same time, wonderful professional developments are taking place. I formed a batch of folks to maintain and enhance my website. They include:
— Stephen Berrey, Prof. of Hist. and Amer. Studies at the University of Michigan, who had experience doing historical research in Mississippi, has done in-person research on sundown towns in Michigan, and has considered the impact of bad public history on race relations, North and South;
— Nicholas Loewen, my son, who was born in Mississippi, majored in sociology, and has taught in public and private schools in the U.S. and abroad;
— Carmen J. Walters, president of Tougaloo College;
— Shirlethia Franklin, attorney for Tougaloo College, who also leads the pro bono work at the law firm Jones Day;
— Phil Huckelberry, computer expert at Systems & Software, who is also a leader of the Green Party of Illinois;
— Matt Cheney, partner in Pantheon.io;
— Stacy Kvernmo, of Oddbird;
— Eddie Moore Jr., of the White Privilege Conference and Institute; and
— Susan R. Loewen, wife and former international educator.
Already we can report important new developments: please go immediately to my new website, justice.tougaloo.edu. Look around. It’s not perfect, it needs work, but already it is 10x bigger than the old and 10x better. Please tell your friends about it and ask them to tell THEIR friends. We want to promote a flurry of activity, because it conveys much new material, about truth in history, Confederate monuments, Mississippi, sundown towns, and many other topics. For example, the University Press of Mississippi is bringing out a second edition of Mississippi: Conflict & Change, 40 years after the first edition! We shall try to get a grant to provide free copies to every teacher of social studies and related fields in MS high schools!
Please send a one-word email with the subject “justice” to Stephen Berrey at email@example.com, if you want to know of continuing developments regarding critiques of textbooks, Confederate monuments and other examples of public history, Mississippi history, “standardized” testing, etc.
Please send a one-word email with the subject “Sundown” to Stephen Berrey at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you want to know of continuing developments, some of them funded by a wonderful anonymous friend and donor, that will help those of you learning about and working to change sundown towns.,
Please note: I hope ALL of you will use my new website to cause social and intellectual change. With your help, we can all use the energy freed by BLM and George Floyd’s death to create a new America in which, as my signoff implies, accurate history prompts positive social change in the present, and such efforts lead to a nation willing to face its past with both eyes open wide. Toward this end, take particular note of the White Anti-Racist Hall of Fame, a joint venture with the White Privilege Conference and Institute.
Of course, if you have only a peripheral contact with me, you will not want to reply at all and you will not be bothered again.”
James W. Loewen
“Telling the truth about the past helps cause justice in the present. Achieving justice in the present helps us tell the truth about the past.”