Honoring a Hero
In a few moments on a crowded Portland commuter train, Reed grad Taliesin Namkai-Meche ’16 became an inspiration for people around the globe. He confronted a racist maniac who was harassing two teenage girls, one of whom was wearing a hijab. For this act of decency, he paid with his life.
The heartbreaking incident, and the courageous response of Taliesin and two other bystanders, drew international headlines.
In the wake of the tragedy, members of the Reed community chose to create a scholarship fund to honor Taliesin’s life and create a legacy of generosity for future Reedies.
To make a gift in his memory, please follow this link and indicate the Taliesin Scholarship in the notes section.
The episode unfolded on the afternoon of May 26, 2017, after an extremist named Jeremy Joseph Christian boarded a MAX train near the Lloyd Center and began menacing two teenagers, one of whom was African American; the other wore a hijab. “Muslims should die!” he shouted. They edged away, but he followed them, screaming racist profanities. At this point, Taliesin and two other bystanders confronted Christian. “You need to get off this train,” Taliesin said. “Please, get off this train.”
Christian turned on them with a knife. Taliesin and Ricky John Best were killed; Micah Fletcher survived.
Taliesin grew up in Ashland, where he was described as “wired for altruism.” He followed his sister to Reed and majored in economics. His thesis adviser, Prof. Noelwah Netusil, described him as “a very caring person, smart, hardworking, and with such a bright future.”
He also took a class on Islam in the Modern World from Prof. Kambiz GhaneaBassiri [religion]. “He was thoughtful, humble, smart, inquisitive, and compassionate,” says Prof. GhaneaBassiri. “He was a wonderful human being. As good as they come. And now he is a hero to me."
In the days following the attack, Prof. GhaneaBassiri wrote a piece titled My Student Died In The Portland Attacks. Now We Must Defend His Values in the Huffington Post.
The three men were widely hailed as heroes. But Taliesin’s final thoughts were not about heroism. As he lay dying on the train, he gave one last message to a fellow commuter who was comforting him: “Tell everyone on this train I love them.”
If you prefer to mail a gift, please make checks payable to Reed College and indicate the Taliesin Namkai-Meche Scholarship. Checks should be mailed to the Office of College Relations, 3203 SE Woodstock Blvd., Portland, OR 97202.