Otis Graham passed away the other week. Otis was one of FAIR’s founding members of our Board of Directors and a master historian. You were a lucky person if you had the chance to discuss important issues with Otis.
He served on FAIR’s Board of Directors for over 25 years.
Otis’s passing after a life well lived reminds us of the need to understand history when approaching important areas of public policy. We can regain this ethic, but only if we can reverse course and consider the consequences of failure.
To anyone fortunate enough to sit through a meeting of the FAIR Board of Directors in the 1990s, listening to Otis’s debates with Governor Richard Lamm, Ecologist Garrett Hardin, John Tanton and others was a treat. He provided historical context and moral balance in every area under discussion. A master historian with an unparalleled sense of the Civil Rights Movement, Otis understood more than most – and certainly more than most in today’s political arena — why irresponsible immigration policies could be a threat to those least able to withstand the impact.
Otis was always an inspiration, the best of what America has to offer. He was a source of light in our deliberations. He would deplore the manner in which our politics have descended into name calling: He knew that love of country and our fellow man was the only basis on which this issue could be handled. He believed that FAIR was making history – “footprints in the snow” he liked to call it – and always encouraged us to take an enlarged view of the national interest in our positions.
As an historian – he taught history at several major universities – Otis always believed that it was important to preserve our deliberations. He helped us set up archives for our work.
Otis Graham was an important part of FAIR, someone who helped conceive its original framework and purposes. He worked to shape and guide FAIR to ensure it had an appeal to both sides of the political spectrum; to ensure that the motives and objectives of this movement were above reproach at all times.
In later years, as noted, Otis was saddened by the unnecessary polarization that has gripped the nation. He had his own theories of it. But he never let it get him down. Otis had an unfailingly upbeat aspect to him, his countenance and outlook. He’s the sort of person our nation used to produce: a unifier, a mentor, an inter-generational beacon of light. We have much to learn from his legacy.
We won’t see his like pass this way again soon. And he will be missed. Terribly missed.