As a young college student I took part in a civil rights protest outside the South African Embassy in Washington. We were appalled at the strict segregation laws there and wanted officials to know our objections. We marched with our posters quietly in a ring around the building, until a DC cop arrived and pointed out the law required us to march at least 500 feet away from any Embassy property. We moved, but not before a reporter from a local paper, attending a function inside took note of our march..and I hope did a story.
This was one of the early protests against “apart-hate”, but students here as there were among the strongest opponents of those odious laws.
In over 40 years of reporting, if you had asked me what was the most unlikely news event I could think of..the end of segregation in South Africa would have been number one (The fall of the USSR would have been number two.)
But it happened—and as the world was reminded this week, that was because of the tireless work..and reconciliation policies of Nelson Mandela..a convert from violence, an ex-prisoner, and follower of Ghandi (whose influence and importance to South Africa was largely absent from most news stories of the past few days.)
How appropriate it is that Tuesday is International Human Rights Day..and the day of his nation-wide memorial service.
We can all take lessons from Mandela’s life and work—but also know that work is not done..and many nations have yet to learn those lessons ..that people can not long be enslaved..and in the end, freedom will win..especially if today’s young people learn Mandela’s life story ,continue his noble work, and remember one of his sayings:
“It always seems impossible—until it’s done.”
I'm just sayin'...