Remarks of Bill Taylor , Georgetown University Law

Larry Levine and I were first cousins, part of a large Jewish family that came to the United States at the end of the 19th century. Larry's father and my mother were the two youngest of that family and they came with hig hopes of becoming a part of this new society. Larry and I grew up at some distance from each other -- he in the northern reaches of Manhattan and I in the southernmost part of Brooklyn. And, then, of course, soon after he became a teacher he migrated to California, a continent away.

But despite the distance we always felt a connectedness and so when he came to George Mason to teach for part of the year, we picked up our friendship with ease. As you all know, Larry was extraordinary in many ways. Many of our generation who grew up in the 3os and 40s became financially successful, but most also led cabined lives, locating and conducting their lives in communities that were ethnically and socio economically isolated,  Larry was different. He had a hunger for the wide diversity of the American experience and he sought it out in his own life, in his friendships and in his cultural tastes.

And of course in his teaching and writing. And here too he was different. Many of the academics I know are incisive analysts and critics of all of the faults in this nation. Larry was that as well. He was troubled by the wrongs and injustices that are rife in the U.S. and in protesting them he participated in the action and passion of his time. But Larry in his teaching and writing had something that is far less common-- a desire to understand, explain and celebrate all of the cultural components of our society, all that made this an exciting place to live. He translated this excitement to his students who loved him and to his readers as well. I went on line this morning and read some of the comments about his book. One reader who was not a professional reviewer said "he made me proud to be an American." I thought also of a day in which I met with a young African American curator at the Library of Congress after I had agreed to turn my papers over to the Library. In the course of our conversation, she learned that Larry was my cousin. She was very excited. She told me that Black Culture and Black Consciousness was a wonderful book that had changed her life.

 

 

2         Most of all for me, Larry was great fun to be with. I always looked forward to the invitations that came from him and Cornelia. One could expect an evening of lively conversation, of humor and occasionally debate. But the debate always met the highest standards of civility. Larry and Cornelia were known to disagree on occasion about one thing or another, but it was always a loving disagreement. And Larry had a great capacity for love --for his wife, his children and grandchildren his extended family and his many friends.

             The joy that I found in being with Larry lasted until the end. Despite the fact that his energy was depleted and that he was in pain, he was still funny and intellectually engaging -- and to that he added a quality that is rare--great personal courage.

He has left me and all of us with great memories and a shining example of how to lead our lives.

   

  

 

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