LANI SILVER ~ POLITICALLY RED Our sweet beauty who was a miracle from above, has quietly slipped away ~ She was a lady of grace and strength! Her generosity of spirit was an inspiration to all those who’s lives she touched. Lani Silver was a noted Holocaust Oral Historian – and for16 years, directed San Francisco’s landmark Holocaust Oral History Project coordinating l,700 interviews with Holocaust survivors and witnesses, worldwide. Lani became Steven Spielberg’s first consultant and trainer for the USC Shoah Foundation Institute and she co-discovered the story of Chiune Sugihara, who rescued thousands of Jews in the Holocaust. He was called: “The Japanese Schindler.” 53,000 testimonies. She too – was an artist, freelance writer and lecturer with the American Program Bureau. (Gorbachev’s bureau – Desmond Tutu, Jane Fonda, Oscar Arias). Her latest endeavor was as Director of the James Byrd Jr. Racism Oral History Project.

If we are to reap history, and let history open its doors to us,

then Lani Silver ought to be the custodian.


                                                                                      Wesonga David



The message header was short and terse. ‘Our Lani is gone – Politically Red.’ And the body of the message equally teary; Lani silver, a noted holocaust historian had passed on peacefully in her sleep, surrounded by love!


To a young man, thousands of miles away in Africa, one might wonder why Lani Silver, a lady somewhere in San Francisco, California, should mean anything. But the young man is wanting to ask why President Barrack Obama should mean that much either, considering he is president of a nation thousands of miles away also struggling to come to terms with its history. But a cynic will rush to add, ‘His father was born somewhere In Kenya!’


‘Ok’, the young man will retort, presumably struggling to grasp the attachment. But the only attachment he might construe is the fact that, in the year The United States of America embarked on a new journey, to erase the sad memories of the south and the raw memories of Rosa park, in the year the dream, dream’t on the front porch of Lincoln memorial on 23rd of 68 came to fruition, and America got the first black president, in that same year History was made, a lady who spent her lifetime reminding us of history, and gathering history passed away, and to some, the world stood still, albeit for a second, if not minutes.


I chanced upon the demise of Lani Silver first via a message from Jo lee of JO LEE. I had read Nazi History, gone through Jewish moments and the bitter racism facts and fiction, but the depth of Lani Silver opened new frontiers in my understanding of the red and black subjects – of blood and ancestry. Indubitably the most authoritative source on matters of holocaust, Lani was a symbol typified, of a person who struggled to make us learn from our past, to embrace our future by understanding our present, and just giving everyone a chance they so much deserve. She was a self wheeled momentum power boat. And to note I never met her personally!


Introduced to her as a fellow columnist for JO LEE and then again when she was soldiering on bravely in hospital through a message for her on her webpage, I kept track of her progress. Nicknamed ‘politically red’ by Jo Lee, due to her activism, Lani embraced the world and the world hugged her in return.  Lani’s story is an embodiment of cultural fusion, the type eloquently brought forth by the U.S. President Barrack Obama. An American who typified the struggle for acceptance and equity in forsaken territories and peoples, the story of the Jews – Painful memories that needed to be told, the credo would never be more apt, ‘and let the truth be told!’


For a page so short, inked with a bleeding pen, and a momentous spark, Lani Silver speaks volumes in death, as was in life.  And to imagine I never met her!


A flower bloometh in grace,

Endeared to charm in days,

A beauteous thing scented in joy – forever,

A memory lasting till end of times,

And to imagine I never met her!

                                                                    Wesonga David

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