Professor Leon Litwack has received many personal and professional accolades, including the Pulitzer Prize for his history of American slavery's aftermath, "Been in the Storm So Long." My voice of appreciation for him as my teacher joins the resounding chorus. Litwack insisted on teaching introductory history courses for freshmen at Berkeley for over 40 years, a “chore” usually foisted on the most junior members of the faculty. In the late 60s, I was lucky to be one of the 500 students in Wheeler Hall for that course. Quoting from a SF Chronicle article, “perhaps chief among the many qualities that have garnered Litwack generations of admiring students is his persuasive insistence to uncover our authentic history, particularly with regard to racism”. He states that racism is “the most debilitating virus in the American system, nourished by cultural and historical illiteracy.” Professor Litwack had “incredible warmth, eloquence and courage to challenge orthodoxy and authority." I thank and appreciate him for profoundly changing my uninformed and naïve thinking about history. He continues to inspire me to understand not only my country, but myself.
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