Apart from its sadness, Norm White's unexpected passing this month was deeply disconcerting to many of
us, who like him, are earnestly working on social justice and racial equity issues especially those impacting children and youth.
Over the past couple of weeks, friends and colleagues have expressed shared sentiments on the impact of his work
in the community and his tenacity of spirit. With a clear sense of identity and purpose, Norm was unwavering in his vision for a better future for our community.
Norm was an associate professor of criminology and criminal justice at St. Louis University and founder of the Shut it Down program. He also participated in Ferguson protests. His life and work were intertwined by his commitment to ensuring vulnerable children have the supports and resources they need as he worked toward systems-level change.
St. Louis County Children's Service Fund (CSF) began working with Norm on the Breaking the Pipeline Symposium after he was nominated for the Dr. John M. Anderson Excellence in Mental Health Award. CSF presented the award at the St. Louis American Foundation's Excellence in Health Care luncheon in April. There wasn't a dry eye in the house after the video above was played at the luncheon.
In a thank-you note to Alicia Smith, CSF's outreach coordinator, he wrote, "I pray that I will be able to represent the fund and community in way that lifts the voice of children." And that was Norm. His work was not about him; it was about the children he was doing it for, and he used each opportunity to humbly amplify the message rather than the messenger.
He ended the note with this hope: "I have come to understand there are angels all around. They all bring change."
So while we all share this deep sense of loss, there is also profound sense of peace because Norm is still here with us. And he's here to bring change.
To learn more about the life and legacy of Norm White, please click the links below.