¡Felix Shafer, Presente!

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By Judith Mirkinson

On a hot Sunday afternoon, 250 gathered in Oakland, CA on October 12, to celebrate the life of Felix Shafer who died on April 15, of lung cancer at the age of 63.  In a hall filled with photographs of his life, speakers remembered Felix as a brother, a husband, a father and comrade.

“He was a political person to his very core. His commitment to the political prisoners remained a constant his entire life,”, said Judith Mirkinson, his former partner.

His wife, the muralist, Miranda Bergman remembered his strength, his intellect, his creativity and his great love for people.  We had the most amazing relationship for almost 30 years, we thought we’d grow old together but it was not to be. Ona, Gemma and Jack Mirkinson and Max Forman-Mullin, his children, spoke of his perseverance and grace in this last period of his life and talked about the chasms left by his passing.

There were also tributes by former and current political prisoners, Palestinian and New Afrikan activists.

Alejandro Molina of the PRCC and the National Boricua Human Rights network spoke of Felix’s commitment to the Puerto Rican people. His remarks are printed below.

The evening ended with bomba from Aguacero. As one attendee put it.  “It was a most beautiful event.  It reminded us of our community and movement that believes that another world is possible.”

Remarks by Alejandro Luis Molina on behalf of the National Boricua Human Rights Network

Good afternoon everyone; 

On behalf of Oscar López Rivera and the National Boricua Human Rights Network, its wonderful to see so many faces of comrades, compañeros(as) and family. Also our respect and love, on my personal behalf, and on behalf of the former Puerto Rican political prisoners freed by President Clinton in 1999, to all of the former political prisoners that are present today.

I personally met Felix, along with a host of other comrades from the East and West Coasts, in the late 70s during a difficult time for the Puerto Rican solidarity movement, which was severely divided as a result of the actions of the FALN and later, other armed Puerto Rican organizations. Needless to say, the divisions in the solidarity movement reflected the divisions in the independence movement. It was a difficult period, and the practice, principles and community they built, which he came to exemplify of that political tendency, became the cornerstone for our relationship in the years to come.

22 years ago last weekend, the American Indian Movement convened The International Tribunal of Indigenous Peoples and Oppressed Nations in the USA as the culmination of national counter quincentennial events in which a broad coalition of activists, and national movements came together to kill the Ghost of Columbus yet again. Felix and his comrades, some of whom are here today, were an important part of that coalition, bringing together the work on other political prisoners whose freedom we was also committed to: Geronimo Pratt, Marilyn Buck and Silvia Baraldini, among others. The series of events gathered broad publicity and further stirred the national debate on Columbus, Colonialism, Genocide and Political Prisoners in the US.

After the Tribunal, Felix gifted me a poem by Walt Whitman, “To a Foil’d European Revolutionaire” and on the other side he wrote a simple message, which has managed to stay with me to this day, about solidarity, consistency and principles, once again closing the circle that bound us then, and which binds us now.

Comrade Felix, we stand on the shoulders of giants.

Free Oscar López Rivera
Free Puerto Rico