I was at Lewis and Clark College from 1986-1990. Nelson Mandela loomed large in my college life. As students we protested Apartheid and called for the release of Nelson Mandela. We marched in downtown Portland when world leaders came to town. We stood in unity as the board of trustees met on campus to demand that Lewis and Clark divest from South Africa. We celebrated when the board listened to us and voted to divest from South Africa in 1988.
There are many things about the college years that I look back upon as foolish youth, but I have never looked back with regret on the stance I took regarding South Africa. We spoke up, we were loud, we were obnoxious really – but we were on the right side of history. I studied South African literature during the school year 1989-90. And in 1990 we celebrated, as if we took part in history, the day that Nelson Mandela was set free from prison.
What I admired most about Nelson Mandela was his dignity, depth of his convictions and his unwavering forgiveness.
“Great anger and violence can never build a nation. We are striving to proceed in a manner and towards a result, which will ensure that all our people, both black and white, emerge as victors.” -Nelson Mandela from Speech to European Parliament, 1990.
In memory of Nelson Mandela July 18, 1918 to December 5, 2013