Remembering Nelson Mandela

"When people are determined, they can overcome anything.""
--Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela, a peaceful champion of democracy and freedom, died Thursday at the age of 95.

“AFSCME joins the world in mourning the death of Nelson Mandela,” Pres. Lee Saunders said. “AFSCME is eternally grateful to President Mandela for the sacrifices he made in the fight for freedom.”

The world’s most-famous, political prisoner refused to let 27 years of imprisonment deter him from ending apartheid and bringing democracy to South Africa. Throughout his life he carried a message of hope, peace, equality and non-violence.

Former AFSCME Sec.-Treas. William Lucy was a founding member of the Free South Africa Movement, and AFSCME leaders including Lucy and former Pres. Gerald W. McEntee participated in demonstrations to protest apartheid at the South African Embassy.

'This anti-apartheid support was not forgotten. On Mandela’s first trip to the U.S. after being freed from prison, one of his few stops was the 1990 AFSCME International Convention in Miami, where delegates greeted him with cheers of "Mandela, yes! Apartheid, no!"

“Through our support of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, we were fortunate to establish a special relationship with Mandela,” Saunders said. “Thousands of union activists at the convention in Miami were inspired by his courage, perseverance and his dedication to South Africa and its people.”

The members of AFSCME will remember Mandela as a peaceful and powerful voice for freedom.

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived,” Mandela said at a speech in Johannesburg, South Africa. “It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”

Cross-posted from the AFSCME blog.