He is a man who knows theorists by their first names and silly qualities. "I know in pictures that this man never smiles, but he's hilarious," he'll say. "So-and-so doesn't really wear sunglasses all of the time, though I can see how you think he does." He told us his fanboy story about being recognized by one of his favourite theorists after writing his first book. He shared jokes and comics with us every day to make lectures more interesting.
But today he shared so much more. He told us about his experience attending Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous 1963 "I have a dream" speech. He told us about how exhausting the rallies were all day in the sun. He told us about how the air just changed and the audience was buzzing when Dr. King started talking. He choked back tears as he told us about the tall African-American man beside him who placed his sign on the ground, bent over it and "wept like a baby".
He told us about how he'd never told this story when he was teaching at Berkley or the University of Southern California. He told us that until teaching here, at Royal Roads, he never realized just how important that experience was to communications. His eyes were full of tears as he told us about his wife's cancer and the fact that any group he teaches could be his last.
We were blessed today. We have been blessed to know this incredible man. This man could be my grandparent but his world view is blown so wide open. He was a young, white man working to end racism in America. He was a young man who experienced a life-changing event that he still can't talk about without tears.
We gave him a standing ovation and he patted my shoulder as he passed by me. He gave Teresa and I hugs after class while telling us how much he appreciates his students, and how he hopes that even some of the knowledge he's gained in his life will help us through ours.
Today, I experienced the single greatest event of my academic career.