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Feb 14, 2023

"Maybe the purpose of being here, wherever we are, is to increase the durability and occasions of love among and between peoples." --June Jordan

June Jordan's Legacy of Solidarity & Love

To fulfill a humanities requirement at UC Berkeley, Sriram Shamasunder wandered into, "Poetry for the People," a course conceived and taught by the late poet-activist June Jordan. He had no way of knowing then, what a profound impact Jordan would have on the trajectory of his life. Shamasunder writes," June was both tender and fierce. At first, she was mostly someone I admired at a distance in the classroom. This changed during my last few weeks at UC Berkeley, when we studied Arab and Arab American poetry. A disagreement between Jewish students defending Zionism and those supporting Palestinian liberation grew from a murmur to a rumble over the course of the semester. In one of our last classes, a teaching assistant publicly accused Junein front of a class of 250 to 300of failing to stand up on behalf of Palestinian people. She didnt show up for class the following week. The weekend after, I went over to her house in North Berkeley. She was surprised to see me, but she let me in..." This moving tribute opens a window on June Jordan's remarkable legacy, and the friendship she forged towards the end of her life, with a young doctor just beginning his own journey.


Do something to increase the love where you are today. For more inspiration, read June Jordan's poem, dedicated to Sriram Shamasunder here, "It's Hard to Keep a Clean Shirt Clean." More ...