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Joel Olson, 1967-2012

March 30, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Family, Joel Olson, Politics

Mourning the Loss of a Colleague, Comrade, and Friend

We are deeply saddened by the loss of esteemed activist, writer, scholar, and NCV Contributor Joel Olson, who passed away while on sabbatical in Europe.

Joel was Associate Professor in the Department of Politics and International Affairs at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona, where he specialized in political theory. A noted expert on racial politics and extremist ideologies, he was the author of The Abolition of White Democracy (University of Minnesota Press, 2004) as well as numerous articles and reviews. Joel was working on a second book, entitled American Zealot: Fanaticism and Democracy in the United States, at the time of his death.

During the 1990s Joel was involved with the Love and Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation and later went on to form Bring the Ruckus! He was a well-known figure in the anti-racist and pro-immigrant movements in Arizona, working with grassroots groups including Copwatch and the Repeal Coalition.

A statement released by NAU’s Department of Politics and International Affairs observed: “Joel was a colleague of great kindness and decency; a teacher of unquenchable passion and inspiration; a foremost scholar of critical race studies; and an eloquent spokesman for the oppressed. Above all, he was a loving husband and father, and a much-loved brother and son…. While his loss will be forever, the example of his life will live on. Whether one knew him as a friend or as a teacher, he will always be our role model for a life fully and nobly lived.”

“He was very passionate about life,” said Fred Solop, a colleague in Joel’s department. “He was passionate about his family, he was passionate about politics, he was passionate about teaching.”

Joel Olson was a powerful voice in radical politics, a dedicated father, and someone who worked tirelessly through his words and deeds to raise critical consciousness and promote justice in the world. He will be missed by all of us here at NCV, and we ask that you keep him and his family in your thoughts.

For more information on ways to offer support, please visit the “Remembering Joel Olson” page.

2 Comments to “Joel Olson, 1967-2012”


  1. NCVeditor says:

    From one of the last pieces written by Joel: “The key obstacle to building the 99% is left colorblindness, and the key to overcoming it is to put the struggles of communities of color at the center of this movement….” http://libcom.org/library/whiteness-99-joel-olson

    1
  2. i went to grad school with joel and have kept in touch. he showed all of us how good humanity can be. joel lived with his heart open, showing compassion to everyone, while speaking the truth and fighting hard for justice and goodness. he modeled all the goodness that a straight, white man can be. it is painful to know that the world is, that we are, without him. joel helped me reflect on how to live life properly. his goodness is available in those of us who knew him.

    laura

    2

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