[COMM-ORG] Passing of Shel Trapp

Discussion list for COMM-ORG colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
Tue Oct 19 20:29:18 CDT 2010

  [ed: the news is coming in from many corners of the passing of Shel 
Trapp. As always, we mourn the loss and celebrate the legacy. All 
comments, stories, and remembrances are welcome.]

From: Dave Beckwith <dbeckwith at needmorfund.org>

A giant is gone…

From: George Goehl [mailto:george at npa-us.org]
Sent: Tuesday, October 19, 2010 2:19 PM

Friends of NPA – wanted to share the tough news that NPA Co-Founder Shel 
Trapp passed away yesterday. Below is a note to the npa network.

------ Forwarded Message
From: George Goehl <george at npa-us.org>
Date: Tue, 19 Oct 2010 12:51:20 -0500
Subject: NPAction Shel Trapp 1935-2010

Dear NPA Family,

NPA co-founder and agitator-extraordinaire Shel Trapp passed away from 
complications with pneumonia yesterday. He was 75. He leaves behind his 
loving family, wife Anne, daughter Kathy, son Rollie, son-in-law Dennis, 
daugter-in-law Becky and 4 beautiful grandchildren, Chloe, Ben, Jake and 

We all have the honor and responsibility of being part of National 
People’s Action, a rare organization in America. There is no other 
entity in this country that has had the guts to consistently and 
directly confront corporate and political elites in the way that NPA has 
over the last 38 years. The courage and fight that it takes to do 
hard-hitting direct action is part of our DNA, deeply engrained in the 
culture of National People’s Action. And without question, this DNA can 
be traced back to a preacher turned organizer named Shel Trap.

One of the organizational values of NPA is “To push beyond the edge of 
what’s possible.” For Trapp, that meant pushing beyond our own personal 
edge, beyond what was comfortable. We often call this being fearless, 
but Trapp would tell us it is not about being without fear, but actually 
having the guts to push beyond those fears. That’s why he saw direct 
action as such a powerful tactic – because it not only transforms 
relations of power, but also transforms the human spirit.

Trapp had the unique ability to see something inside each of us that we 
didn’t see in ourselves. And through this insight, and his ability and 
willingness to agitate, he helped untold organizers and community 
leaders brush past insecurities, cultural norms, or whatever was 
standing in our way of tapping into our fullest potential.

Joe Hill, the great labor agitator and songwriter, wrote before his 
execution in 1915, “Don’t mourn for me, but organize.” I know Trapp 
would say the same thing to us now. Our economy and our democracy are in 
rough shape. People are hurting and looking for hope. We can best bring 
people hope, and honor Trapp, by actualizing a favorite quote of his - 
“In the face of injustice there is only one correct response, ATTACK!” 
Nothing would make him happier than knowing his passing prompted each of 
us to move more people to engage in powerful direct action at this 
tenuous moment in our nation’s history. As I write this, the Alliance to 
Develop Power is doing just that – paying a surprise visit to the 
American Bankers Association Convention in Boston. Somewhere Trapp is 

Trapp did not want a funeral, but this Friday his family will be having 
a gathering at the NPA office from 7-9 pm. Any and all are welcome 
(except bankers).

The Trapp family and NPA will be holding a big party in Chicago later 
this year to celebrate his incredible life and the impact he had on so 
many. We’ll get details to all of you as they become clear.

In solidarity,

National People’s Action

George Goehl
Executive Director
National People's Action
810 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622

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