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Welcome to Hark Herald Press Saturday, November 27 2021 @ 11:04 AM UTC

PROFILES IN COURAGE: Alvin F. Berkwitt (April 12, 1928 - July 2, 1998)

Society
  • Monday, January 04 2021 @ 08:49 PM UTC
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by Andrew Davis

Dotted throughout our nation's history are episodes of many brave and courageous men and women standing up to the forces of tyranny and oppression. Men and women like Susan B. Anthony, Ida Wells, Nathan Hale, Rosa Parks, Harriet Beacher Stowe, Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King, Jr. -- all names that many of us learned from our history books.

Often times, however, ordinary, brave people that stand up to the forces of oppression go unknown. Not because they aren't relevant or unworthy of our veneration, but because these every day citizens are often forgotten due to the media's focus on sensationalist nonsense. Bombast and bluster sells more dish soap than news about ordinary citizens that are hoping to make a difference.

Today I am proud to cover the story of one such ordinary citizen, Alvin F. Berkwitt.

(click above photo for larger image)


Up until early 2020, I had never heard of Alvin Berkwitt. I had come to learn about him after I stumbled across a video on Twitter that was posted by his son, Brad.

The power of Mr. Berkwitt's conviction is something to behold. After watching the video, the hair on my neck stood up and a lump formed in my throat. His powerful articulation makes for an intense 90 seconds of video. It doesn't matter if you're a person of color, gay, disabled, female... or not - you will be moved by his words.

After watching the video, one can only ask: "How many of us can say we've done as much as he has to oppose the forces of oppression and discrimination?"

Here's the Youtube video (clickable link):



Here's a quick testament about Alvin, as presented by his only son, Brad:

"Dad was born on April 12, 1928 in Buffalo New York. He lived between New York and South Florida most of his adult life. During that time, at a personal cost to him physically at times, he fought for civil rights and for social issues he felt were the right causes. In 1963, he marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In the late 1970's he fought against Anita Bryant, who was attacking the Gay community. Dad was not gay, but he lent his voice to any cause he felt needed it.

On June 2, 1977, Dad was in the battle against Anita Bryant who, at that time, was out of Miami Beach as dad was. NBC Nightly News did a segment on it and part of it is the clip you see of my father.

Funny thing, I was 9 when it came out and, of course, knew he fought against her, but I didn't know about this segment until 32 years later in late 2009. I got a call from a close friend who said, "I think your dad is in the movie 'Milk' with Sean Penn."

Since dad passed in 1998, I wasn't sure it was him. Well, I saw Milk and was in tears as I watched this clip sure enough in it. Being in the media myself since 1997, I reached out to some connects and got in touch with a gentleman named Kenn Rabin who was the actual guy who found dad's clip and other public domain footage that was used in the film.

This is from his email from him to me back in 2009:

Dear Brad, Iíve checked my notes and looked at the cut of MILK. It looks like your dad is the guy who is arguing vehemently that (paraphrased) if one group loses their rights, then everyoneís rights are in danger. Hope this is him (heís wearing a baseball hat which is largely white and seems to be at the exact cue you indicated). I think he provides one of the most dynamic moments in the archival part of the film. Iím very glad we could use that film clip.

Dad passed away on July 2, 1998 in North Bay Village, Florida at the age of 70. His voice and passion was passed onto his only child, which is me. To date, losing him has been the hardest for me personally. To this day, I still grieve over the loss."


For more information on Alvin Berkwitt, please visit the link below. The latter links are to Brad's web site, which contain some great content, including interviews with various music and boxing legends.

LINKS:

For an in-depth article that reveals more about Alvin's life, please visit the following link:

Alvin F. Berkwitt: Boxing, Passion and the Most Amazing Man I Have Ever Known

Brad Berkwitt's "Bad Brad" Web Site: link

Brad Berkwitt's Twitter account: link

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