Guest post by a Legal Insurrection reader who attended the Memorial Service for David Gibson of Gibson’s Bakery.
I am known to people who read Legal Insurrection as JD Nobody. The reason for my name is that by being Nobody anyone can hide behind saying Nobody told me. I am not a lawyer but have often hung out with lawyers and have enjoyed “thinking outside the box” with them.
My connection to Oberlin College is as a third-generation alumnus from the class of 1961.
Having made many trips to Oberlin since graduating, I am moderately familiar with what is going on inside the Oberlin bubble, yet still well connected to the world outside the bubble. During this time, I never knew the Gibsons but knew of their excellent reputation.
I stumbled on Legal insurrection by accident while looking for the College’s Frequently Asked Questions about the Gibsons v Oberlin verdict. These questions allegedly “explained” what had happened. I became progressively more outraged at the whitewashes the College was trying to sell as I read LI’s coverage and looked at the evidence introduced in court. My outrage quickly extended to anger on behalf of the Gibsons and disgust that my college would behave so idiotically.
JD Nobody never had the opportunity to meet Dave Gibson. Still, it didn’t take long to learn what a decent and exceptional person Dave was and to see that Oberlin College’s actions toward Dave and the Gibson family were sick beyond words.When I was getting moving on the morning of my 80th birthday, I received word from a friend that Dave Gibson had passed away earlier that morning. Not the best way to celebrate the 80th birthday. Dave had passed on at close to the same time of day that I was born 80 years earlier.
The well-attended visiting hours for David Gibson were held in Oberlin’s 177-year-old Meeting House (aka First Church). [See Featured Image]
It is easy to miss the symbolic importance of remembering Dave in this venue.
The Meeting House was a National focal point for many anti-slavery events before the outbreak of the Civil War. Slave catchers came to Oberlin in 1858, captured an escaped slave, and headed South, stopping 9 miles from Oberlin in Wellington for the night. Many people from the Meeting House headed to Wellington, took the slave from his captors, and returned to Oberlin in celebration.
In a way, the legal case was a modern Wellington Rescue — this time to rescue the Gibsons.
JD Nobody was gratified to see the outpouring of sympathy and condolences to the Gibson family and to hear the words of appreciation which my website, Oberlin In Chaos, has received for its effort to bring decent treatment to the Gibson family.The College did make one gesture, though, toward the Gibsons. It asked college employees not to park in the college parking lot next to the Meeting House during the Gibson Memorial Service.
There was a large, racially mixed turnout for Dave Gibson’s Memorial Service. Attendees from the College were few, none of whom were the people slandering the Gibsons.
The Memorial Service lasted two hours because many people came forward to pay tribute to David Gibson. One of the more important tributes was from Eddie, who is black and has been a lifelong friend of David’s. Allyn D Gibson spoke during the service about his relationship with his father and was broken up by the loss.
After the Memorial Service, a Gibson family member told me that they are enormously grateful for the support from Bill Jacobson and LI. I learned that in David’s last days, the family read him some of the LI posts written by myself and others. These posts bucked up Dave’s spirits in a time of little hope. Those of you who posted on Dave’s behalf can take credit for doing a good deed that you did not realize you were doing.
There was a time at Oberlin College when there was an atmosphere of graciousness and decency. That began to fade over 50 years ago after discarding formal dining in favor of a more cost-effective but sterile cafeteria setting. The current dining environment is somewhat better than that provided to an average herd of hogs. There is a connection between graciousness and decency that is not on Oberlin’s radar today.DONATE
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