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Honoring Nelson Mandela

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“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use
to change the world.”

–Nelson Mandela

The National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME) joins with people around the world in mourning the passing of the great Nelson Mandela of South Africa and in celebrating his life.

Nelson Mandela’s courageous leadership of the struggle against Apartheid, a struggle that inspired much of the liberation impetus of the 20th Century, was historic and deeply instructive.  His organization, the African National Congress, began the fight when it seemed truly impossible to challenge the overwhelming power of the Afrikaans regime.  They began with hope for the future and confidence in their strategy.  With tremendous sacrifice and creativity, they pushed the struggle ahead at every juncture.

Our own struggles for equity in education, for the full inclusion and blossoming of all cultures and peoples in the service of democracy in America, have been inspired by the example of Nelson Mandela and the ANC.

We recognize that he is now being reframed as a one-dimensional and saintly icon by the media – much as was done with Martin Luther King.  But we honor the whole and concrete Nelson Mandela, the one who fearlessly confronted power and united the diverse populace of South Africa, the one denounced as a terrorist by the South African regime and by British and US government leaders, the one who endured decades of demeaning life in prison, the one whose historic Rivonia trial speech immortalized the right to rebel, the one who dared criticize Israeli treatment of Palestinians as similar to Apartheid, the one who forged a new sense of social justice through the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions.

We honor Nelson Mandela and continue to be inspired by his example.