Adam Shapiro, ~1951-2012, !Presente!
(APN) ATLANTA — Adam Shapiro, host of Current Events on WRFG 89.3 FM radio and a long-time progressive activist in Atlanta, who fought for social change despite obstacles associated with his being completely blind, has died. He is believed to have been 61.
He was found dead in his apartment on yesterday, Friday, September 14, 2012, Atlanta Progressive News has learned. The station management became concerned when he did not show up for his show on Thursday.
Shapiro was very active with WRFG, having served for many years on the Board of Directors and more recently on the Program Cmte. He hosted two different shows during his lifetime: first, a half-hour show on disability rights and issues called ‘Capped but Able, for over a decade; then, Current Events, the Thursday edition of the Progressive News Hour 12pm to 1pm slot, which makes up most of WRFG’s news programming.
Through ‘Capped but Able, “he interviewed activists in the disability community, not only the blind, but those in wheelchairs. He was making the connection between disability activism and progressive issues in general,” Brian Sherman, co-host of Radio Free Activists, the Progressive News Hour show on Mondays, told APN.
“Adam was really a dedicated progressive without flinching,” Sherman said.
Atlanta Progressive News used to participate in a segment on Current Events every Thursday for about fifteen minutes from 2006 until early 2010.
Shapiro was active with the Green Party of Georgia, holding numerous statewide leadership positions. He was also an At-large Executive Board Member of the Democratic Socialists of America, Atlanta chapter.
Shapiro was also active with the Open Door Community, which is located close to Shapiro’s apartment in the Briarcliff Summit building on Ponce de Leon Avenue in Atlanta’s Midtown community. Open Door is a charitable organization that provides food, shelter, and other services for homeless and needy individuals; and also advocates for progressive policies related to homelessness and other issues.
Shapiro was a member of the Congregation Bet Haverim in Atlanta. He also was active with the Atlanta Council for the Blind.
And he liked to play the guitar and sing labor folk songs. A Youtube video of Shapiro singing at the WRFG Block Party of 2009 is available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzhSE5GXIWU
“He’ll be missed by many,” Betty Couvertier, host of Alternative Perspectives, an LGBTQI radio show on WRFG, who for years helped Shapiro operate the technical aspects of his radio show, told Atlanta Progressive News.
“He was an inspiration to all, I believe. He was to me. Even with all his challenges, he never let that stop him from doing for the community, he always made the community a priority. His search for justice was always at the forefront. He just didn’t let his challenges stop him,” Couvertier said.
“He’ll always be remembered by me – he was my mentor. He taught me about public radio. He always dealt with what was going on in Atlanta, with the homeless, all the injustices,” Couvertier said.
“He made every attempt to be at the events, he recorded them, he played them on the radio. He was well-versed in all of the political ideologies. He himself was a Green Party member, but he was very much aware of the lack of leadership nationally. He was an extraordinary individual for being physically challenged. He recorded via his radio show all the notions that are out there. He had special deliveries to his email – he was able to hear magazines and books, he was well-read. He was very, very inclusive, very progressive. He was a voice people tuned into at noon on Thursday, and I know because they used to call. And the fact that he included the listener in the conversation was just great,” Couvertier said.
“He was a rare gem in the midst of all the confusion and the negativity and I believe people counted on him, hearing him to get the whole story, to get the rest of the story as they say,” she said.
Milton Tambor, President of DSA Atlanta, recalled Shapiro’s avid participation in their Study Circles, where they would discuss Marxist works and other literature.
“He really loved the study circles- whenever we had readings and there would be discussions. We would be talking about Marx, issues of class, any political issues where there was an opportunity to be part of the discussion – or opportunity to lead the discussion. He was always asking questions and what it means to be someone on the left in these particular times,” Tambor said.
Tambor noted that the DSA is not a political party and that there was no contradiction with him serving on the boards of DSA Atlanta and the Green Party of Georgia.
Shapiro also had close ties with World Can’t Wait and the Revolutionary Communist Party, who would often participate in his Thursday radio show.
Barbara Joye, a friend of Shapiro’s and a colleague from DSA, referred to him as “outspoken but open-minded” and a “dedicated all-around progressive activist and a good friend to many of us.”
“Adam was an amazing community activist on so many issues, an extremely dedicated volunteer for WRFG over many, many years, a well-informed and often brilliant man who dealt with many personalities on his talk show and always kept his temper. He was very generous of his time, his folk singing at events, his opinions which were always interesting. He was a delightful person and everybody who knew him well is terribly saddened,” Joye said.
Shapiro is survived by two sisters. He was originally from Long Island, New York, where he studied at Adelphi University.
Services are being scheduled with Congregation Bet Haverim, likely for Wednesday or another day next week. And Malisha Ward, who has helped Shapiro manage the switchboard for his Current Events show, tells APN that next Thursday’s program is intended to be a tribute to Shapiro.