It was at an Aggie Black Male Connection meeting where RaDale Lewis, Class of 2019, first met Steven Anderson.
Lewis jokingly took note of the student’s particularly slow and deep-toned voice, only to be met with Anderson’s own wave of playful critiquings. This banter marked the beginning of an everlasting friendship.
“At that time, I knew I met a friend,” Lewis said.
On April 3, Steven Anderson, Class of 2020, passed away following a prolonged battle with Renal medullary carcinoma, a rare form of cancer that targets the kidneys. Anderson’s passing drew outpour not only from his peers in the Aggie community — as much as registering enough social media interaction to become a trending topic in Texas on April 4 — but among those he knew back home in Houston.
One of the strongest brothers to become a member of this chapter. His character and positive attitude touched a lot of people and we are forever grateful for you. Bro. Steven Anderson, Alpha Iota #6, has entered the Omega chapter. 🕊https://t.co/RKOUS3zDFY pic.twitter.com/zJY5OBOgbj— Texas A&M Alphas (@PotentPiO) April 4, 2020
Lewis, who eventually joined the Texas A&M Pi Omicron chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha (AΦA) alongside Anderson, described the student as a warrior and a comedian. He was a person who could occupy the big or little brother role in anyone’s life, and never failed to uplift those in low spirit, Lewis said.
“There were times when I was at a low point and had a conversation with Steven, and he just changed my whole mood by how happy he was, even going through his own battles,” Lewis said.
Technology management senior and AΦA member Ayodeji Okunnu said Anderson’s infectious personality was immediately apparent from the moment the two met in a group chat as seniors in high school.
“Since then, I can’t even count on my fingers how many stupid things we’ve done together,” Okunnu said.
Late-night fast food runs and talking until dawn ensured the party never stopped when Anderson was with his friends. But Anderson, who formerly served as the vice president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), also possessed a passion for calling out today’s injustices.
“Countless people have memories of Steven’s activism and the love he passed through the people he cared about,” Okunnu said. “Steven was someone who always fought for what he believed in and constantly worked through adversity to achieve his goals.”
I told him this is the kind of stuff we’ll see in history books-Steven at the Richard Spencer protest in 2017 pic.twitter.com/aOgsXrerLf— Diana Evonne (@isdianaokay) April 4, 2020
Computer science senior and AΦA member Luke Rodriguez said Anderson’s activism can be noted as far back as December 2016, when white nationalist Richard Spencer visited A&M.
“He was the definition of a ‘ride or die,’” Rodriguez said. “No matter what the situation was or who we were facing, he never backed down. Prime example is when he pretty much led the front lines of the protests when Richard Spencer came to A&M. I guess in Marvel terms, he was the Captain America of our family.”
It was his outspoken nature that helped business senior and NAACP President Toriah Taylor find the courage to become a freedom fighter herself.
“He taught us all to not be afraid to express your feelings to get what you want,” Taylor said. “Steven was smart, bold, pertinacious, persistent and determined, all while being loyal to others and true to himself.”
Though neither knew it until becoming friends on campus, A&M sophomore Diana Reyna and Anderson grew up together in the Fifth Ward district outside of Downtown Houston. To Reyna, he was a somebody the city intended to keep a nobody.
“Steven was a reminder that the neighborhood we grew up in can create some strong ass characters,” Reyna said. “He understood the need to represent that community in places where a lot of people didn’t think we would make it.”
For as often as he took up militant causes, Reyna said Anderson had an equally empathetic worldview. Whenever she was feeling down, Anderson was by her side with advice, solidarity and some always welcomed clownery.
Even when his diagnosis became apparent, he continued to fight, Reyna said.
“His legacy is gonna live on every time someone stands against injustice,” Reyna said. “Every Time someone stands for a community in need, that’s a timeless legacy and it’s one that’ll live on for eras.”
September 13, 2018Steven, I was planning to show you this video when the battle was finally won so you could see how far you came. Even on this day you were hopeful and in high spirits. Thank you for all that you did here in your time on Earth @IAmAhjani pic.twitter.com/3yk2EVRqEI— ✵Saint Nayvadius (@Brycematic) April 4, 2020
To Davion Youngs, Class of 2018, Anderson leaves behind a life of the highest accord — one that people will never forget.
“I watched him come in a young man and was blessed with watching him mature into the young king he was and is,” Youngs said. “He was the perfect example of what a great environment and support will do for someone, as well as the perfect symbol of what righteousness is. … I am elated to call him my brother.”
Ahjani - To Overcome Struggle. pic.twitter.com/0RxW6yWLFJ— 👩🏽💻🔺🐘 (@r_smittyy) April 4, 2020