Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

A Tribute to Professor Paul Longmore RIP

I would like to think that I share many connections with Professor Paul Longmore, who passed away on August 9th in his home in San Francisco. He taught at San Francisco State University for 20 years where I focus a lot of my work hours. He was a writer and a political activist. He campaigned for the physically challenged and fought the hurdles and discrimination that confronted them.

Professor Longmore contracted polio at the age of seven. He wrote his first book – “The Invention of George Washington” – over a period of 10 years. Why so long? Professor Longmore wrote by holding a pen in his mouth and using it to strike the keyboards.

Let me say that again: Professor Longmore wrote by holding a pen in his mouth and using it to strike the keyboards.

Incredibly, Professor Longmore burned a copy of the book on the steps of a Federal building, as a protest against policies that discriminated against people with physical disabilities.

The Social Security Administration went on to revise its rules and one of the amendments that allowed physically challenged authors to count publishing royalties as earned income, became known as the Longmore Amendment.

Trevor Getz, associate professor of history at San Francisco State University paid this tribute in the SF Chronicle. “He wasn’t just about disability – he was an incredibly renowned George Washington scholar. It all came together when he burned his book. It was a statement about a particular view of the history of this country as one where people made equality and liberty happen.”

For more on Professor Longmore’s accomplishments, please refer to the Chronicle’s article.

As a writer, Professor Longmore serves as an inspiration for his drive to write and overcome any obstacle, and for his tenacity for social activism. Professor Longmore passed away, but his legacy and example will live on.

Good Writing,
Alon Shalev

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