Celebrating Mandela's Legacy

Friday, December 6, 2013

Celebrating Mandela's Legacy(Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO)

Nelson Mandela’s life and legacy were honored and celebrated worldwide as news of his death spread around the globe. “During his visit to the United States in 1990, Mandela spoke to the AFL-CIO and called on the labor movement to use its history of empowering America’s workers as a model for South African workers,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “We in the labor movement must take Mandela’s words and continue to strive for equality and fairness for all working people around the globe.” Metro Washington Labor Council president Jos Williams – who helped coordinate civil disobedience protests at the South African Embassy in the early 1980’s and then observed South Africa’s first free elections in 1994 – said that Mandela’s “example of quiet fortitude, calm forbearance and fierce passion for justice have guided my own struggles like a brilliant North Star whose light shines even more brightly today.” Saying that Mandela—Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and first president of a multi-racial democratic South Africa—persevered and inspired others in the pursuit of truth and justice until his final days, TransAfrica president Nicole Lee pledged that "We will continue to carry on Mandela’s legacy of courageous activism. Even when unjustly imprisoned on Robben Island by the apartheid government, he and his fellow activists in the liberation movement inspired us all with their vision of a free, just and democratic South Africa. No obstacle was too great for Nelson Mandela in his quest for a brighter tomorrow.  As we work to change powerful systems that perpetuate economic and social injustice, we are reminded of Madiba’s courage."
photo (l-r): early 1980's anti-apartheid protest: former DC City Council Chair Dave Clark, former DC Mayor Marion Barry, Richard Trumka (then President of United Mine Workers); Jos Williams, DC Metro Labor Council president; Moe Biller (APWU president), Willie Baker, Jr. (then Vice President of UFCW and Coalition of Black Trade Unionists Vice President); Norm Hill, (then Executive Director of A. Phillip Randolph Institute). Photo courtesy Arlene Holt Baker


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