Nelson Mandela

The story of Nelson Mandela, who passed away today, is compelling enough on its own. I am amazed at how he helped turn a great evil into a chance for equality in his country. He stressed reconciliation with people who manifestly did not deserve it.

I knew about the apartheid policy in South Africa while I was in college, and felt it was an inhumane policy. I knew it was closely related to the law in some parts of the United States during the by-law segregation era. During a trip to France in 1984, I had the opportunity to talk extensively with a South African woman I met there, and those conversations gave me a great deal of insight into the apartheid policy, all of it negative insight. I also learned about the anti-apartheid movement in the United States when I visited a church in North Carolina with a college friend, and heard the preacher go on at length about the church and its efforts to raise anti-apartheid awareness. I wrote several letters to my national representatives, and to my 401(K) administrator, urging divestment from South Africa in order to oppose apartheid.

A great deal of the story of apartheid and the quest for equality in South Africa parallel the civil rights struggle in the United States. I don’t know how the equality movement in South Africa is working today, but I know that we still have a ways to go here.

Nelson Mandela and Dr. King were both fighting for the same thing, in different countries. Their methods of getting there were somewhat different. Mandela served significant time info prison for his methods. Dr. King served time for his methods as well, and lost his life before the work was done. But both were fighting the good fight, for the equality deserved by all their fellow citizens.

Mandela stands out for his actions after he was released. He acted as a true, and truly gifted, leader, of all South Africans, in spite of the high tension that accompanied the end of apartheid.

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