Saturday, December 7, 2013

Thoughts After Mandela’s Passing

Most of my friends spent part of yesterday remembering Nelson Mandela. Sometime during my early teens he became Uncle Eddie’s new hero. Uncle Eddie called him a man of strength and vision like Dr. King and Kwame Nekruma. Mandela and the anti- apartheid movement was a frequent topic of conversation at his table.
Yesterday I got tidbits of new information. I hadn’t know that it was Maxine Waters who’d led the divestment from South Africa crusade when she was a California Assembly Woman. Or that the CIA had been complicit in Mandela’s arrest and imprisonment, that Miami’s elected officials refused him an official welcome when he visited after his release from prison because he would not renounce Fidel Castro.
Mandela’s first stop on his 1990 US tour was New York. We gave him a tickertape parade. Later that night, I joined the crowd that welcomed him at Yankee Stadium. He was stalwart, upright, like men of granddaddy’s generation, radiant, without a trace of anger. He epitomized grace.
A friend posted a picture on FB from the Atlanta leg of this trip, Mandela visiting my hometown. Winnie, Nelson, Maynard Jackson, Atlanta’s first Black mayor, and Coretta Scott King are standing in the forefront of a crowd, fists raised. This one brought back a flood of memories—growing up in Atlanta, being in the heart of the Civil Rights Movement, the honor of living in same city as Dr. King.
Humanity, inclusiveness, dignity, honor, compassion—Mandela continued King’s leagacy.
A friend summed up best how I feel in her emailed:

just happy to have been alive at the same time as a true human being...sadly, rare.