From Mother Jones: “Nelson Mandela’s Epitaph, in His Own Words” by Dave Gilson
“‘My Lord, I am the First Accused.’ Those were Nelson Mandela’s opening words as he stood in the dock in the Palace of Justice in Pretoria, South Africa, on the morning of April 20, 1964—nearly half a century before his death December 5 at the age of 95. …’I felt we were likely to hang no matter what we said, so we might as well say what we truly believed,’ Mandela recalled in his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom. The final lines of Mandela’s 60-page, 176-minute statement have since become its most famous:
During my lifetime I have dedicated my life to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live for and to see realized. But, My Lord, if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
Questions For Consideration:
What is the legacy that Nelson Mandela is leaving behind? How is his struggle for racial equality still a lesson to learn from today? After more than a quarter century spent in prison, how did Mandela continue his commitment to peace and what has he taught us about forgiveness? What kind of coverage of his life are you seeing in the media? Why did Mandela’s African National Congress remain on the U.S. terrorism watch list until 2008?
Want to learn more?
- Nelson Mandela, Inspiration to World, Dies at 95
- Remembering Nelson Mandela
- People will try to reduce Mandela to a lilting reggae tune about ‘love.’ They will fail
- Don’t Sanitize Nelson Mandela: He’s Honored Now, But Was Hated Then
- On Mandela: ‘Prison Became a Crucible’
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