Latasha Shaw: friends and family describe the 36-year-old as a dedicated mother of four, a hard worker and a fighter for the truth. She always greeted others with a hug and a smile along with her upbeat energy; she was the life of the party, and people fell in love with her quickly.

Rickie Austin, Shirley Barnes and Miranda Patterson say they all spent a

close-knit, memorable and “great summer” together with Shaw in Wilson Commons just this past year. They all agree she was a “very sweet person.”

Shaw was the newly-elected Vice Chair for the Service Employees International Union, on the negotiating committee and a union counselor. As for her peers, Andre Coleman (who is also an SEIU counselor, along with Ms. Barnes) says she was “a fighter for worker’s rights, fighting side by side [with us].”

Shaw is described as a person who believed in supporting one another, in truth and in unity. She was fun-loving and made work a party, yet she was always professional and did a good job as a cook.

Rickie Austin choked back tears as he described Shaw and said, “Tasha was always solving problems. She died solving a problem, and she tried to solve the issue without violence. She would want people to learn from this.”

I never knew Latasha Shaw personally, but after interviewing Austin, I felt

overwhelmingly sorrowful that Rochester had lost a very important person.

She was a great friend, family member and loving mother.

Latasha Shaw was an innocent woman and she did not deserve this.

Rochester needs to share her story, because that’s what she would want. Like Austin said, she would want people to learn from her tragedy, and what better way to honor a hero than to take this tragedy and turn it into a beautiful fruit of truth, strength and love? All are attributes Latasha Shaw had. If we want to recover from this, we must admire and exhibit these virtues always.

Latasha Shaw was a martyr who died defending her family.?She is not only an example for mothers around the world, but for every person who is afraid to stand up to a bully. These qualities make Shaw a hero.

An excerpt from a book titled

“Heroes, Saints, and Ordinary Morality,” by Andrew Flescher says: “?the firefighters and rescue workers who became the heroes of Sept. 11

were regular people, with routines and families. The efforts they exerted facing

a danger of unprecedented magnitude, knowing as little about that danger as they

knew, were for them the stuff of a day’s work: unglamorous, methodical, and in

keeping with the standards and expectations of the profession they had

chosen? These firefighters who placed themselves in harm’s way were not

destined to become ‘heroes’ any more than they knew that when they entered

the south tower of the World Trade Center it would be the last day of their

lives. Such is the nature of heroes, who seem to lack any self-awareness of

their heroism, much less accept such a characterization when it is issued on

their behalf by others. A plausible reason for this denial is that heroic deeds, when performed, occur in response to unpredictable situations to which the hero

simply reacts, bereft of the self-conscious objective of playing the hero. He or

she reacts as he or she thinks anyone would react, though in such a way that

importantly reflects advance preparation. In a sense, the hero does what he or

she has been trained to do.”

Compared with the firefighters of Sept. 11, Shaw was also doing her duty as a mother.

Her actions are a display of courage and, most importantly, love. Shaw loved her children and clearly would have done anything to make sure of their well-being. I find this terrible tragedy to be a courageous display of a mother’s love and a woman’s quest for justice.

Latasha Shaw is a hero.

After her senseless murder, 600 people gathered for an anti-violence rally on Monday, Oct. 1, 2007. Latasha Shaw is Rochester’s Rosa Parks: a woman standing up for what she believes is right, in a time where her beliefs are not appreciated. Shaw stood up against the senseless brutality that is consuming Rochester today, the same brutality that took her. Now, as she’s looking over the city of Rochester, she continues to be a mother for all of us, helping us strive for peace in a time of violence.

Duarte is a member of the class of 2009.

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