My friend Marv died yesterday morning. He was 81 years old and had been in poor health for some time. Still, I and many others feel his loss greatly.
As many of my Minnesota readers would know, Marv Davidov was an icon within the local justice and peace community. He was the founder of the Honeywell Project, a Freedom Rider during the Civil Rights era of the 1960s, and a participant in the Immigrant Workers Freedom Rideof 2003. For over 50 years he was a tireless non-violent revolutionary, dedicated to facilitating positive social transformation through organizing and activism.
Marv played an important role in my political and social awakening; my “radicalization,” if you like. He was a true friend and mentor. He no doubt played this dual role for many others as well.
I first met Marv in 1997 when I began participating in theweekly vigil outside the corporate headquarters of Alliant TechSystems. At the time, Alliant was the largest Minnesota-based weapons manufacturer and the primary supplier of landmines, cluster bombs, nuclear missile rocket motors, and depleted uranium munitions to the U.S. Department of Defense. It also had sales representatives in over 60 countries.
My involvement in this vigil (left) introduced me to a wonderful community of people – a community that, rain or shine, faithfully gathered every Wednesday morning to protest war and the profiting from war.
Not only did my involvement make me aware of dysfunctional aspects of U.S. foreign and economic policy, but also of creative and nonviolent responses and alternatives to them. Such awareness facilitated my active participation in a range of social justice issues. It was a very energizing period of my life; a time of learning in which I forged lasting friendships with many interesting and inspiring individuals.
In November 1997 I wrote to my parents in Australia and shared with them my new found interests and activities.
I’m not sure where my involvement in such issues will lead me. But I know that in the last year I’ve changed a lot – mainly in relation to the way I view this country, militarism, and the economic system that we currently have and which is obviously not working in a just way for a vast number of people. I have no alternative to offer, yet know that there’s no going back to the way I used to view things. Basically, I’m just trusting that the Spirit will lead me in right ways of thinking about such things and accordingly, in how I should live my life.
Marv was by far one of the most influential and colorful characters I came to know through my involvement in the Minnesota justice and peace community. And make no mistake, he could be difficult to work with at times. Yet more often than not he’d be the first to tell you he was far from perfect. He was well aware of his shortcomings and tried his best to overcome them.
Above: I feel very fortunate to have spent time with Marv during the last days of his life. For one thing, it gave me the opportunity to let him know how grateful I am for his presence in my life and for all his many years of work to bring about positive social change.
I was actually visiting Marv when he was interviewed by veteran Star Tribune reporter Randy Furst for the articlereprinted below. My friend Barbara Mishler (right) was also present. Throughout Marv’s long illness, and especially during the last weeks of his life, Barb was an inspiring provider of loving care, support and strength to Marv.
More photos of Marv follow Randy Furst’s reprinted article.
Longtime Peace Activist Marv Davidov Dies
By Randy Furst
Star Tribune January 14, 2012
[Editorial Note: This article is also posted elsewhere on WAMMToday. The photo is from Randy Furst’s article.]
Marv Davidov (right), December 12, 1969. Davidov and other protesters are being read a statement restricting them from trespassing on Honeywell corporation property by Fred Carey of Honeywell security.
Following is a selection of photographs of Marv that I’ve taken over the years. If you didn’t have the good fortune to know Marv, I hope these images give you a sense of the very special man he was and the many justice and peace activities he was dedicated to and involved in.
Above: Marv being arrested with Dave Dellinger (1915-2004) for trespassing at Alliant TechSystems corporate headquarters – May 7, 1997. Dave was a good friend of Marv’s and, like him, was a pacifist and activist for nonviolent social change.
Above: At the April 2002 ReVisioning Conference in St. Paul, MN, Marv was part of a panel of speakers that addressed the topic “Militarism: Barrier to a Sustainable World.” The other panelists were (from left) Fr. Gabriel Odima, Barbara Frey and Marie Braun.
Above: Standing center with (from left) John Braun, Mike Miles, Marie Braun and Marv. This photo was taken in May 2006 and shows us participating in one of the weekly vigils outside of the Alliant TechSystems corporate headquarters. “DU” refers to depleted uranium or Uranium 238, used in munitions produced by Alliant TechSystems.
Above: While visiting the Twin Cites from Australia in July 2005, my parents met Marv when they joined me in attending the weekly Alliant vigil. Pictured above from left: Marv, Marie Braun, Greg Corcoran, Dad, and Mary Vaughn.
Above: Marv with his friends Barb Mishler; Betty McKenzie, CSJ; Kate McDonald, CSJ; Rita McDonald, CSJ; and Brigid McDonald, CSJ.
Above: Marv with friends (from left) Kathleen Ruona, Ken Masters and Mary Ellen Trotter.
Left: Marv with friends Susu and Dee on the occasion of his 76th birthday – Saturday, August 25, 2007.
Above: Marv in October 2002, protesting mainstream media bias, specifically the lack of coverage of the largest anti-war rally in Minnesota in 30 years that had taken place a few days earlier. Limited coverage of this event had been buried in the A section of both the Minneapolis Star Tribune and St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Above: Marv with (from left) Jane McDonald, CSJ, and poet Carol Masters.
Above: Marv with Chris, one of the many young people who over the years have been inspired and moved to activism by Marv. This photo was taken at an Alliant TechSystem vigil in the summer of 2003.
Above: My photo of Marv that is included in You Can’t Do That. It shows Marv teaching a class on the history of nonviolence at the University of St. Thomas in April 2009.
Above: Marv at an anti-war event in 1999. Earlier that year I had invited Marv to speak to a social justice class that I was teaching at the College of St. Catherine-Minneapolis (left). Following is what one student wrote in response to the insights and experiences shared by Marv.
Marv was a very energized speaker describing his thoughts and beliefs in how our country is deeply, deeply dysfunctional. When he said that people are irrelevant compared to big business and money, I think he hit the nail right on the head . . . He brought a lot of new insights to me that made me question what is really going on around us. A lot of times I caught myself nodding my head in agreement to his points. Marv lives his life resisting [and] fighting for what he believes in. I found him very selfless. He resists not for himself, but for his community.
That’s how I remember Marv, too.
When I said goodbye to Marv last Thursday afternoon, just two days before he died, he looked me in the eyes and said very calmly and deliberately, “I love you.” I smiled back at him, rested my hand upon his shoulder and told him that I loved him too. My last words to him were, “I’ll see you again, Marv.”
Marv has left this life, but I truly believe I will see him again one day. Until then, rest in peace, my friend.
I conclude this tribute by sharing (in the following three segments) the short documentary film that was made a few years ago about Marv and his life of activism. [Editorial note: this videos are posted elsewhere on WAMMToday.]