Anna Shavers, the Cline Williams professor of citizenship law at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, associate dean for diversity and inclusion and a co-leader of the Journey for Anti-Racism and Racial Equity, died Saturday, Jan. 22, after battling cancer.
Shavers, according to Nebraska Today, has been a UNL faculty member since 1989. Richard Moberly, the dean of UNL’s College of Law, said in an email that Shavers made an impact on generations of law students.
“She had grown up in a segregated South and understood the challenges students of color face in today’s America,” Moberly wrote in the email. “As a result, she fought tirelessly to make the college, the university, and our broader community more diverse, more equitable, and more welcoming.”
Shavers made time to listen to those she might not have agreed with and tried to understand them, Moberly said.
“I certainly was not done learning from her, and it is tragic she was taken from us before her work here was finished,” he said. “But I know we are all better for having known her, and I feel fortunate to have been able to benefit from her courage and kindness.”
The Journey co-leaders, consisting of Lory J. Dance, Kwame Dawes, Kara Mitchell Viesca, Sergio C. Wals and Colette Yellow Robe, also joined together to share the impact Shavers made on each of them and her contributions to diversity and inclusion in all of her positions, not just on the Journey team.
“It was entirely our honor to have been able to spend so many hours with Professor Shavers over the past two years,” the co-leaders wrote. “These were the years of the pandemic, and our gatherings quickly became shelters of active solidarity, deep intimacy and growing friendship and trust.”
The team wrote how Shavers understood how she could use all of her strengths to bring people together and assist each other for the betterment of the world.
“When one of ours says, ‘she’s our ancestor now’, she means many things built around the ways in which many of our cultures value eldership and the role of the ancestors,” they said in the statement.
In the statement, the group said Shavers talked about retiring and also how much the Journey team meant to her.
“She was characteristically unwilling to make a fuss about her struggles,” the statement said. “...she did express a hope that she could have a part in ensuring that the vision that came out of our coming together would become manifest in a tangible and lasting institutional symbol and marker, the consortium.”
In spring 2020, Shavers spoke to The Daily Nebraskan about her position as a professor and in law after winning the 2020 Chancellor's Fulfilling the Dream Award.
“I say my dream came full circle,” Shavers said. “Teaching law, another profession I had always admired but didn’t really, at that time, think I would achieve that goal — But I achieved that as well as teaching, so I think I’m in the perfect spot for me.”
Daniel Dawes, a 2006 College of Law graduate, also said in the article that Shavers convinced him to become a part of the college.
“She has been fighting for greater diversity and inclusion her entire career at that law school,” Dawes said. “Because of her, many of us, including myself, probably wouldn’t have been there but for her advocacy.”
In the article, Shavers spoke about her hopes of her passion for teaching and diversity and inclusion translating to the entire campus.
“I’ll have that till the day I die,” she said.
In remembrance of Shavers, a memorial service will be held Thursday, Jan. 27, at 5 p.m. at the College of Law. On Tuesday, Jan. 25, her family will host a visitation from 5 to 7 p.m. at Roper and Sons, 4300 O St.