Earl Shorris, our friend and Nation contributor, who died on May 27, was one of a kind. In the 1970s, when he was an advertising executive (his accounts included AT&T and General Motors), he dreamed up and helped found the Leadership Network, a mini-advertising consortium that enabled mega-corporations to advertise in small-circulation journals of opinion and thought-leader magazines across the board.
Earl was also a stalwart advocate of providing a voice to the growing hispanic population in the US and was the editor, with Miguel León-Portilla, of In the Language of Kings: An Anthology of Mesoamerican Literature–Pre-Columbian to the Present (Norton).
And after he quit advertising to become a full-time essayist, and novelist, he dreamed up the Roberto Clemente course, which introduced poor people to the classics, his theory being that one of the reasons poor people were poor was that they never had the opportunity to read the great books, the way he did at Robert Hutchins’ University of Chicago. He taught the first such course to a small group of women prisoners. Before he was done, more than forty universities and other institutions around the world were offering Clemente courses to the underprivileged, a terrific testament to Earl’s vision.