When I learned of the passing of David Glover, executive director of Oakland Citizens Committee for Urban Renewal, it was like a blow to the solar plexus -- painful and immobilizing.
Since his death May 22, words associated with Glover such as community leader and activist, though true, seem to also fall short. He was so much more.
Hearkening on the theme used by Sen. Edward Kennedy when eulogizing his brother Robert, Glover was a community leader who saw wrong and tried to stop it, who saw injustice and worked to change it, who saw suffering and attempted to alleviate it.
His uniqueness was displayed through his unwavering commitment to the city of Oakland. For Glover, it was about the mission. He could have easily moved on to so-called greener pastures where pontification is the coin of the realm.
Over the years, Oakland has had its share of shooting stars. Individuals who arrive with a meteoric rise only to burn out and disappear. But Glover stayed.
Nor was Glover the rabble-rousing activist who is adept at criticizing but offers little in the way of solutions.
Several years ago, I interviewed Glover when Occur was celebrating its 50th anniversary.
I told him that many in the area recognize the name Occur, but for all of its name identification many outside of the organization were hard pressed to answer: What is Occur?
He shared back then that he too was often presented with the same question. But Glover, who had served as the organization's executive director for two decades, had no problem confidently articulating Occur's impact on the Oakland/East Bay region.
"To put it bluntly," Glover stated, "Occur means whatever one needs it to mean."
Glover's response may sound cavalier, but he and Occur possessed the evidence to support his claims.
According to Glover, "Depending on what you do, Occur can mean that you are a student at a computing center, it could mean that you are a nonprofit executive who has received some training, it could mean that you are a consumer whose been educated about low-cost insurance or some telecommunications issue."
He added, "Occur could also mean that you are a minority contractor or a professional service provider who has benefited from an Occur policy action. Occur proposed and got passed minority community equity participation that was adopted by the city of Oakland."
Though impressive, one could argue that Glover was somewhat subdued in his response.
Occur was also one of the founders of the Greenlining Coalition and Institute, which was put in place to combat the redlining and lending discrimination within the state of California that targets vulnerable low-income communities.
One need only stop by the Eastmont Technology Center in East Oakland to view how Glover's leadership transformed a digital divide criticism into a tangible product that offers computer literacy to underserved communities.
Simply stated, Occur, under Glover's leadership has been at the pulse of progressive public policy and initiatives to address social justice needs throughout the East Bay region.
Yet, his love of community always came second to his love of family. I write this based on our myriad conversations, where business would soon morph into family. It is truly amazing that one could have such demands placed on them, but still manage to find a balance.
For those who knew him, it was a rare treat to see someone live out their passion.
So in the inverted order of words taken from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, I come not to bury Glover, but to praise him. For the premature end of his physical life cannot snuff out the incredible contributions coupled with his deep and abiding love for the city of Oakland.
His legacy will continue to touch untold numbers on society's margin.
Contact Byron Williams at 510-208-6417 or firstname.lastname@example.org.