Remembering Andrea Lewis

By Rinku Sen Nov 18, 2009

In the 1990s I was Co-Director at the Center for Third World Organizing and lucky enough for several years to have Andrea Lewis, who died of an apparent heart attack over the weekend, as my colleague. Andrea was a senior editor of Third Force, our quarterly journal about organizing in communities of color, and the predecessor to ColorLines. We were engaged in the project of changing the theory and practice of community organizing so that it could deal honestly and constructively with racial questions. Third Force was important not just for telling the stories of people across the country who were organizing in innovative ways, but also for generating the thinking and the debates that deserved far greater attention than the mainstream gave them. Much of that work is apparent now as progressives build the campaigns to reshape our economy, our schools, our neighborhoods so that race doesn’t determine the quality of privilege or punishment doled out to each of us. Andrea was on the editorial board, freelanced for several years, and then worked on the staff, so I got plenty of time to get to know her. She was a wonderful journalist, with a huge range of story ideas and a talent for asking the most critical question at just the right time. She was also a lot of fun, with a real appreciation for the outdoors and a wicked sense of humor. She used both of those talents in various roles at KPFA and after a recent Knight Fellowship, was poised to enjoy the next phase of her life. I’m grateful for her contributions to my own life’s work, and I’ll miss her.