This is an extremely sad one. And a strange one for me to write, since I just met Moses Shumow for the first time six days before he died in a tragic bicycle crash in Beverly last week. As much as I hate to be that guy who calls attention to himself on the back of someone else’s misfortune, I suppose it is inevitable here since I haven’t been able to stop thinking about Moses since I heard the awful news. He had just reached out to me and my colleague Jason Pramas to work with his class at the Emerson College Engagement Lab, and his enthusiasm in our first session together, less than a week before his passing, was both palpable and promising.
Put in simple terms, he was an awesome guy with a great attitude, and we looked forward to collaborating with him this semester. But whether I knew him or not, this loss is devastating, with three children, a wife, and untold potential left behind.
A new associate professor at Emerson, Moses, who was only 42 years old, had just returned to the Boston area after a decade of teaching at Florida International University in Miami, during which time he also worked on documentaries for PBS and National Geographic, among others. Prior to that, he earned his Master of Arts in broadcast journalism from Emerson in 2001. As the Miami Herald reported:
He was the kind of professor who “wanted his students to be socially conscious and cared to help others,” said Vanessa Morales, 24, one of Shumow’s former students who graduated from FIU last year. “His happiness was contagious, whenever he was around he filled the space with good energy.”
“We are deeply saddened by the sudden and tragic passing of our friend and colleague Dr. Moses Shumow,” said Brian Schriner, dean for FIU’s College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts, in a statement. “Moses was loved and respected by all who knew him. He was kind and caring, and he made a tremendous difference in the lives of his students, colleagues, and community. Our deepest sympathies to his wife and family.”
Of the many impressive accomplishments I discovered in reading about Moses, one standout came from the Miami New Times, a South Florida alt-weekly and fellow member of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia with the Dig. Two years ago, the paper tapped him for its New Generation of Dreamers list, a salute to “people who use positions and platforms available to them to advance and improve the black community.”
“I can tell stories,” Shumow told the New Times. “I can try to build bridges between my students and the community.”
As someone who would never ever bullshit about someone’s legacy, and who absolutely cannot stand it when a person dies and everybody says that they were always about helping people, I offer as a small tribute my testimony that Moses walked the walk. He will be missed by not only his friends, students, and family, but also by people and communities he surely would have helped if his career had not been cut short, whether they realize it or not.
CHRIS FARAONE, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.