On Thursday July 25, more than 250 friends and family of Steve Whitman came together honor his life and legacy and to pay homage to his many contributions to the Puerto Rican community as well as to oppressed communities everywhere. The event, which was held at the NMRAC, was a powerful memorial to an incredible human being whose life touched so many in such profound ways. Steve was a scholar who was truly an organic intellectual, whose scientific and rigorous studies as well as commitment were always focused on serving the most marginalized population. His entire existence, as noted by many of the speakers, was dedicated to ending racism and colonialism. An entire gamut of speakers, spoke about how Steve had touched their lives. These included the following:
José López, Nancy Kurshan, Rosa Kurshan-Emmer, David Ansell, Jade Dell, Michael Deutsch, Jan Susler, John McKnight, Chela Sproles (SUHI), Alan Channing (Sinai), Lourdes Lugo reading poem by Dona Consuelo Lee Corretjer, Linda Murray, Gordy Schiff, John Stainthorpe reading statement by Flint Taylor, Rupa Shah read remarks from Bindu Desai, Lolita Lopez, Michael Rodriguez, Carolyn Lake sang Bridge Over Troubled Waters and Veronica Ocasio led the tree-planting ceremony.
In his welcoming remarks, José E. López, Executive Director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, pointed to the messages which Cong. Luis V. Gutierrez, State Rep Cynthia Soto and Ald. Roberto Maldonado had sent and were also published in the special edition of the La Voz de Paseo Boricua dedicated to Steve Whitman. (inlcde messages). The program included Puerto Rican dishes from Nellies Restaurant, where Steve spent a great deal of time. Poetry and song and ended with the collective planting of a peach tree in the garden of the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture as a symbol of the communities remembrance of Steve’s many contributions to its well being.
A powerful message was delivered by his wife and partner for over 30 years, his soulmate, Nancy Kurshan, (see below) and a moving, funny message by his daughter, Rosa.