Mandela Faced the "Goliath" of Racial Discrimination

Nelson Mandela's life is a rebuke to oppression and to those who would respond with frustrated resignation or hatred. It is difficult to imagine a more unlikely success story against seemingly impossible odds. South Africa's system of apartheid seemed like the purest manifestation of racial discrimination possible. The fact that the discrimination was perpetrated by a small minority of whites against a majority of blacks in their own native land dictated that the means of maintaining the cruel racial hierarchy be extreme and pervasive. That the principal actor in the destruction of this unjust system would be an activist sentenced to life imprisonment in South Africa's notorious Robben Island is nearly miraculous.

The ferocious injustice in South Africa could only yield to a movement led by a person of extraordinary character. Nelson Mandela was such a person. Combining an undying intolerance of inequality and a steely determination with warmth, a sense of humor, forgiveness and an almost other-worldly grace, Mandela led the negotiations that allowed for a peaceful transition to a government which, for the first time, included all South Africans. Predictions of violent retribution for the previous injustice proved unfounded. Full retribution for prior abuses would be difficult, if not impossible, but Mandela's insistence on a process of truth and reconciliation and his personal example of forgiveness for the people who had brutalized him and his colleagues permitted the country to move forward while permitting the horrid stories of the era of apartheid to be aired.

I had the opportunity to experience firsthand the enormous scope of changes that have occurred in South Africa. Shortly after the end of Mr. Mandela's first term, I, along with a team of other civil rights attorneys, travelled to South Africa to share our experience regarding attempts to further civil and human rights. We quickly learned that the South African Constitution's protections of basic civil rights were far more extensive than our own and that this broad scope reflected the broad, pioneering vision of fairness and inclusiveness advocated so effectively by Mr. Mandela.

Through his efforts, Mandela became a leader not only of his country but of the world. Any expectations that all of South Africa's racial and economic difficulties could be completely solved in a relatively short period of time are unrealistic. But Mandela's accomplishments during that short period created a legacy that will be difficult to match. It is hard to imagine any individual who will be able to capture the imagination of the entire world and make such an enormous difference in the lives of his people. But as we individually face the seemingly intractable effects of persistent discrimination all over the world, it would be good to remember this man who, like a modern David, faced the Goliath of discrimination and oppression and changed the world.

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Vicki B.

I just wish I knew why some people call him Mandiba. And people lied to me about what Apartheid WAS. They told me it was white people who were being subjugated by blacks, and I didn't check into the information b/c a person who's near and dear to my heart - an immediate family member - told it to me.

I guess that's what she thought. I've never known her to lie to ANY of us on purpose.
I mean, they also told me that "Republican politicians know how to manage money better than Democrats."
My dad actually still thinks that's true. He didn't have the benefit of going to college b/c he wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth or a trust fund in the bank. He simply deduced that "Mitt Romney's made lots of money, he must be good at business."
Well he's good at SOMEthing anyway and my guess is my dad's partially right - and NO person is without good points, no matter how vile they seem. It's way harder to find them in SOME people but I think they exist in nearly every person alive.
Anyways, I read in a book by an educated person that there are rich people who can be really really good at doing the thing that made them money yet not be smart about any other topic.
Apologetics aside, I simply believed what they told me when I was living in their house. I was a lot older than 14, as I read in another story, when I found out my parents weren't perfect. And that they weren't right about everything.
They were good people, they ARE good people but they're that way on their own terms; i.e., through the experiences that made them who they are.


U are the racist assholes who fuck are world up i don't have to serve anything to fags if i don't want to my first amendment right All u do all day is stick up for people who want to fuck up are country if they wana fuck each other in the ass let em butt not in my country home of the free and the brave sucking dick is neither of those mutts

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