William’s Way

JSblogAfter we became friends while attending college in upstate New York, my best man and fellow real estate developer, William D. Manns Jr., would always introduce me as: “Jube Shiver, the only person I know who has a street named after him.”

In truth, “Shiver Drive” and “Jube Court” in Fairfax County, Virginia are named for my late father, Jube Shiver, Sr., who also was a real estate developer. William knew that, but he still delighted in introducing me as someone singular—always pausing, for effect, to add: “do you know anybody with a street named after them?”

The answer to that question is now “yes” for everyone who knew William.

On September 29, nearly seven years after William succumbed to cancer, about 100 of his friends, dignitaries and other New Jersey residents gathered in downtown Newark to dedicate a street to the beloved lawyer, real estate developer and Renaissance man.

WMway

William earned the honor by mentoring scores of New Jersey’s youth, building a distinguished and potent law practice and developing the largest real estate project ever built by an African-American in the City of Newark—the Nevada Court Mall.

In an event organized by the tireless efforts of William’s wife Emily Winslow and family friend Renee Greenleaf-Shaw, dozens of people including former Newark Mayor Sharpe James, City Councilwoman Gayle Chaneyfield Jenkins, and William’s longtime friend and business partner Ruben Johnson watched, applauded and cheered as “William Manns Jr. Way” was affixed to the top of a street pole on Louise Epperson Plaza.

According to the Newark City Clerk’s office, the one-way street will now have a dual name, that of William as well as Epperson, a Newark community activist.

William, too, was a community activist and force of nature. He was always counseling, consoling, teaching and fighting for his friends and clients. He represented the dispossessed as well as the famous, such as the late poet/play writer Amiri Baraka, the father of current Newark Mayor Ras Baraka.

Newark attorney Maurice Snipes, who calls himself William’s adopted son, credits William with rescuing him from the streets of Newark and mentoring him through law school. But William also made time to write poetry, listen to his collection of blues records or party the night away in a city that he unabashedly loved.

He was particularly proud of joining with famed criminal defense lawyers Johnnie Cochran and Barry Scheck to bring a number of lawsuits against the State of New Jersey for racially profiling black motorists on the New Jersey Turnpike during the 1990s.

A friend of mine and I were among the victims of that practice: on a December day in the mid-1990s—en route to New York to go Christmas shopping–a New Jersey state trooper ordered us to pull over. The trooper proceeded to search my friend’s red Mercedes Benz coupe, without any legitimate probable cause that we could think of nor, as it turned out, that the trooper could articulate.

“You looked like you might have been carrying drugs in that type of car,” he said before letting us go.

Years later, after telling William about that stop, he told me I was lucky my police encounter didn’t end more tragically. He had represented people who had been shot at or severely injured after being stopped by state troopers.

Indeed, William was always fond of tempering tragedy or misfortune by quoting a line of his poetry that read: “Still, the river flows.” The line had a dual meaning to me: that life goes on but that the river—and real life—carve out new paths, over time.

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3 comments on “William’s Way
  1. Jube, a wonderful tribute, I’m glad we were there to honor our brother. Thanks…..

  2. H Colder says:

    Yes! Still, the river flows…

  3. Anne R. Alston says:

    That’s why I love my empowering friends. Awesome blog!

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