A tribute to Nelson Mandela was organized by the Department of Black Studies and held on campus on Dec. 11. Professor A. J. Williams-Myers (Black Studies) and Professor Zelbert Moore (Black Studies/Latin American & Caribbean Studies) reflected on the political and cultural history of South Africa and discussed Mandela’s legacy. The audience, including students, staff, faculty, and local residents, participated in a Q&A session.
Regina Peterson ’14 (Sociology) had traveled to South Africa for a study abroad course, International Social Welfare, in July. “When we were there the whole country was in mourning,” said Peterson, explaining that most of the country believed their leader had already passed. The class visited Mandela’s former home in the township of Soweto and also the home he would die in, in Houghton, Johannesburg. They witnessed crowds of people singing and camera crews surrounding the home. “When I heard he had died, I just wanted to be there. I was in shock and felt extreme sadness, knowing that no matter what, I couldn’t be there with the people of South Africa,” she said.
Mandela was an anti-apartheid revolutionary in South Africa and became president in the country’s first open election in 1994. His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid through tackling institutionalized racism, poverty, and inequality, and fostering racial reconciliation. He died on Dec. 5 at age 95.