Nelson Mandela: South African Prisoner, Liberator and Peace Prize Winner, Dies at 95

Nelson Mandela: South African Prisoner, Liberator and Peace Prize Winner, Dies at 95

Nelson Mandela, who led the emancipation of South Africa and served as his country’s first black President, becoming an international emblem of dignity and forbearance, died Thursday night at the age of 95.

Mr. Mandela’s quest for freedom took him from the court of tribal royalty, to the liberation underground, to a prison rock quarry, to the presidential suite of Africa’s richest country. When his first term in office was up, he declined a second term and cheerfully handed over power to an elected successor, the country still gnawed by crime, poverty, corruption and disease, but a democracy, respected in the world and remarkably at peace.

Mr. Mandela overcame a personal mistrust bordering on loathing to share both power and a Nobel Peace Prize with the white president who preceded him, F. W. de Klerk. And as president, from 1994 to 1999, he devoted much energy to moderating the bitterness of his black electorate and to reassuring whites with fears of vengeance. When the question was put to Mr. Mandela in an interview in 2007: “After such barbarous torment, how do you keep hatred in check?” His answer was almost dismissive: “Hating clouds the mind. It gets in the way of strategy. Leaders cannot afford to hate.

Read more about Nelson Mandela in the New York Times here.

Nelson Mandela Dies at 95: South Africa’s First Black President Remembered

The World Celebrated Nelson Mandela’s 90th Birthday

Mandela’s Campaign Against South African Apartheid

On August 5th, 1962, Nelson Mandela was arrested after living in underground hiding for seventeen months, and was initially imprisoned in the Johannesburg Fort. He was imprisoned after being charged with involvement in planning armed action and a conspiracy to help other countries invade South Africa. The arrest was made possible because the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) tipped off South African security police as to Mandela’s whereabouts and disguise. Mandela was later imprisoned on Robben Island, where he remained for the next eighteen of his twenty-seven years in prison.

In March 1982, Mandela was transferred from Robben Island to Pollsmoor Prison, in part to enable discreet contact between him and the South African government. In 1990, State President F.W. de Klerk reversed the ban on anti-apartheid organizations, and announced that Mandela would shortly be released from prison. Mandela was released from Victor Verster Prison in Paarl on February 11th, 1990, an event that was broadcast live all over the world.

South Africa’s first multi-racial elections were held on April 27th, 1994. The African National Congress won 62% of the votes in the election, and Mandela, as leader of the ANC, was inaugurated on May 10th, 1994, as the country’s first Black President, with the National Party’s de Klerk as his first deputy. As President from 1994 until 1999, Mandela presided over the transition from minority rule and apartheid, winning international respect for his advocacy of national and international reconciliation.

Mandela’s leadership was recognized when he was awarded the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize.

Mandela’s London Arrival for the Birthday Celebrations

Nelson Mandela arrived in London on Monday, June 23rd, 2008, for a week of events to celebrate his 90th birthday. Mandela met with Queen Elizabeth II, as well as with a number of other high-profile celebrities who included Gordon Brown, the former U.S. president Bill Clinton and the talk-show host Oprah Winfrey. The outdoor concert in honor of the former South African President was scheduled to take place at Hyde Park, London, on Friday, June 29th, with performers including Amy Winehouse, Josh Groban, Annie Lennox, Leona Lewis, Queen and the Soweto Gospel Choir.

Celebrating Mandela’s 90th Birthday: The 90th Birthday Concert

40,000 Fans Pay Tribute to Mandela

Will Smith charmed the huge 90th Birthday Concert crowd, and Amy Winehouse wowed them with her performance. However, Nelson Mandela proved to be the biggest star of all at the concert Friday in honor of the South African statesman’s 90th birthday.

Acts including Queen, Razorlight, Leona Lewis and a host of African stars joined more than 40,000 music fans for the outdoor show in London’s Hyde Park. Josh Groban and the Soweto Gospel Choir also performed at the event, which came 20 years after a 70th birthday concert for an absent Mandela at London’s Wembley Stadium. Mandela, an anti-apartheid activist, had at that point been imprisoned in South Africa for 25 years. He told Friday’s crowd that that concert made a big difference in his eventual release and the fight against the racist system, which was dismantled in the early 1990s.

Your voices carried across the water to inspire us in our prison cells far away,” said Mandela, who received the biggest cheers of the night. “We are honored to be back in London for this wonderful celebration.”

But even as we celebrate, let us remind ourselves that our work is far from complete.”

Amy Winehouse Performs: Mandela’s 90th Birthday Concert

Josh Groban Performs at the Birthday Concert

TechnoratiTechnorati: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Ugandan Orphan Dancers: Turning Tragedy into Dance

The Ugandan Orphan Dancers: Turning Tragedy into Dance

The Ugandan Orphans Dance Troupe on Tour

The Ugandan Orphans Dance Troupe, also known as The Spirit of Ugandan Orphans Dance Troupe, is a dance troupe comprised of Ugandan orphans who tour in order to financially support themselves and the children of two orphanages in Uganda. Most members of the group have lost one or both parents to AIDS, have had parents killed by rebels or have seen poverty or disease cause enough family hardship that parents felt compelled to turn their children over to orphanage care.

The Ugandan Orphans Dance Troupe was founded by Texas banker Alexis Hefley, who first traveled to Uganda in 1993 to live and work with AIDS orphans in Kampala. Upon returning home, she founded the Uganda Children’s Charity Foundation and partnering with Sister Rose Muyinza, who also worked with Kampala-area orphans, launched the Spirit of Uganda Orphans dance touring program in 1996. The Orphans of Uganda Dance Troupe raises awareness about the continuing HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa, while at the same time supporting the 700 other orphans who live in the two Children of Uganda homes.

Embodying the warmth and light of their nation, The Spirit of Uganda Orphans Dance Troupe is comprised of twenty-two children between the ages of eight and eighteen, who are serving as cultural ambassadors for Uganda’s 2.5 million orphans. Resonant with melodic tones of standing drums, dramatic choreography, bright layered rhythms and gorgeous vocals, The Spirit of Ugandan Orphans Dance Troupe recently toured the United States, bringing the transformational power of their native song and dance to America in their spirited and hope-filled performances.

Following is the documentary Transcendent Spirit: The Orphans of Uganda by Douglas Menuez, as well a video of dance performance by Uganda orphans.

Transcendent Spirit: The Orphans of Uganda

Uganda Orphan Dancers: Turning Tragedy into Dance

TechnoratiTechnorati: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Please Share This:

Share

Vernon Baker Hailed: African-American World War II Hero

Vernon Baker Hailed: African-American World War II Hero

On September 11th, 2008, the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks, Wofford College, a small liberal arts college in Spartanburg, South Carolina, paid honor to Vernon Baker. Baker is the only living African-American to have been awarded the World War II Medal of Honor. Describing Vernon Baker as “the greatest hero you or I will ever meet in our lifetime,” Bernie Dunlap’s voice choked with emotion as the Wofford College President spoke about Vernon Baker in front of a standing-room-only crowd last Thursday at Leonard Auditorium in Wofford’s historic Old Main Building.

Dunlap presented Baker, the only living African-American recipient of the Medal of Honor for valor during World War II, with the college’s third annual Sandor Teszler Award for Moral Courage and Service to Humankind to a thunderous standing ovation during Wofford’s opening convocation ceremony. Dunlap and Wofford College Dean David Wood also presented Baker, 89, with an Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree, and Spartanburg’s Mayor William Barnet followed by giving Baker a key to the city. “It is September 11, and we remember that this is a difficult and challenging world,” Barnet told the crowd. “But we will always remember our heroes, whether they admit they’re heroes or not, and today we honor one.”

Dunlap first learned of Baker’s story by watching an NBC documentary about Baker that was broadcast during last Winter’s Olympics and later reading Baker’s autobiography, Lasting Valor. Baker, has “endured decades of some of the worst this country offered to 20th century black America,” Dunlap said. Baker served in the Army as a lieutenant with the 370th Regiment. On April 5th and 6th, 1945, he destroyed four German machine gun nests near Viareggio, Italy, at Castle Aghinolfi, a German mountain strong point on the high ground. He killed nine enemy soldiers with a gun and hand grenades.

For his service, Baker also earned the Purple Heart, a Bronze Star and the Distinguished Service Cross in addition to the Medal of Honor. However, It took 52 years before those heroics were recognized. Baker, because he was an African-American, was not officially honored for his bravery until 1997 when he and six of his comrades finally received the Medal of Honor from then-President Bill Clinton. Of the group honored by Clinton, Vernon has the only honoree still living.

The Sandor Teszler Award, which was also given to Baker, carries with it a $10,000 gift and honors the late Sandor Teszler, a Jewish immigrant who came to the Carolinas after he and his family were nearly killed by the Nazis during World War II. Teszler, for whom Wofford’s college library is named, was a friend of the college and a textile businessman who was one of the first to desegregate textile mills in the Carolinas. Previous recipients of the Teszler Award have been Marian Wright Edelman, Founder and President of the Children’s Defense Fund, in 2006, and Paul Farmer, Founding Director of the international charity organization Partners in Health, last year.

Wofford College Honors WWII Hero Vernon Baker

Interview with Vernon Baker: WWII Medal of Honor Winner

NBC Documentary: Vernon Baker Honored after 52 Years

Wofford College’s Sandor Teszler Award

Wofford College, in Spartanburg (SC), honored Joseph Vernon Baker, the only living African-American recipient of the Medal of Honor for valor during World War II. Wofford presented Baker with The Sandor Teszler Award for Moral Courage and Service to Humankind during the college’s opening convocation ceremonies on September 11, 2008.

The Sandor Teszler Award represents the highest ideals that the Wofford community embraces, and it carries with it a $10,000 award. Sandor Teszler was born in the old Austro-Hungarian empire, and during World War II Teszler, his wife and two sons were taken to a death camp on the Danube River, where the Nazi victims were systematically beaten to death. They were prepared for imminent death, but then they unexpectedly were rescued by an official from the Swiss Embassy. Immigrating to America and coming to the Carolinas, Sandor Teszler became a leader in the textile industry, soon becoming one of the very first to desegregate the textile mills. During the last decade of his life, Teszler graced the Wofford campus, “attending so many classes that the faculty, acknowledging a wisdom and experience greater than their own, honored themselves by making him a professor.”

Historical Notes on Wofford College’s Tribute to Joseph Vernon Baker

Wofford College is one of only a handful of colleges and universities in the United States that were founded prior to the Civil War, which still operates and remains on its original campus. The Wofford campus has been designated a National Historic District, and five of its six original college buildings are still in use today. Wofford has become known in the wider academic world as a true “Phoenix rising from the ashes.” The college was devastated by the loss of almost its entire endowment as a result of the Civil War. However, despite its meager financial resources, Wofford proudly struggled through the next twelve decades to provide an academically challenging education to its small student body. One illustration of the sterling academic quality maintained by the college is the fact that forty-two Wofford College alumni have gone on to serve as college and university presidents.

The commemoration of Joseph Vernon Baker and the courage exemplified in his life carries a special confluence with a certain aspect of Wofford’s own history. Founded in 1854, for over a century Wofford was a small private liberal arts college that was segregated, attracting almost all of its white students from the Old South. In 1962 and 1963, public colleges and universities throughout the region had begun to desegregate, almost always forced to do so at the direction of federal court orders and accompanied by significant resistance and often violence. In the face of strong and heated public sentiments against desegregation, as well as by anticipated bitterness concerning the college’s plans for integration and withdrawal of financial support for the college on the part of some of its alumni, supporters and friends, Wofford’s officers were undaunted and forged ahead, quietly beginning to make plans for desegregation. In the fall semester of 1964, the college opened its doors with an admissions policy that was equally applicable and nondiscriminatory to all students who might wish to apply, regardless of their race or creed. Steadfastly committed to its decision to make a stand for human equality, Wofford thus became one of the very first private colleges in the Old South to peacefully integrate.

Vernon Baker is now 89 years-old and lives in St. Maries, Idaho. Mr. Baker had earned the Medal of Honor 52 years before he and six of his military comrades actually received the award in 1997 from then-President Bill Clinton at a special White House ceremony. Mr. Baker was the only one who was still living to accept the Medal of Honor in person, the military’s highest award for bravery in battle. “They helped America to become more worthy of them and more true to its ideals,” Clinton said at the White House observance.

Vernon Baker, who had served as a lieutenant with the 370th Infantry Regiment, was cited for his “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his own life” for his actions on April 5 and 6th, 1945, when he destroyed four German machine gun nests near Viareggio, Italy, at Castle Aghinolfi, a critical German high-ground mountain defense post. He killed nine enemy soldiers with a gun and hand grenades. Mr. Baker also was awarded the Purple Heart, a Bronze Star and the Distinguished Service Cross for his heroic actions in Italy.

Lt. Joseph Vernon Baker: An Honor Long Deferred

In the January 14th, 1997 edition of The New York Times, James Bennett wrote a moving article about the White House ceremony, which came a half-century after most of them had died in combat. On January 13th, 1997, seven soldiers finally were awarded the Medals of Honor that they deserved, but which had been denied after World War II because they were African-Americans. Of the seven men, Joseph Vernon Baker was the only one of the decorated soldiers who was still alive.

Their abilities and courageous actions in combat had been routinely derided by white officers. The very soldiers who were finally honored on that day had been forced to fight in segregated units, protecting the very freedoms that they did not fully share.

History has been made whole today,” Mr. Clinton declared, while standing in the East Room of the White House in front of Gilbert Stuart’s full-length portrait of George Washington, ”and our nation is bestowing honor on those who have long deserved it.”

Lt. Vernon Baker: An Honor Long Deferred

TechnoratiTechnorati: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Please Share This:

Share

A Critical Moment: Barack Obama Accepts the Historic Presidential Nomination

A Critical Moment: Barack Obama Accepts the Historic Presidential Nomination

An Overview of the 2008 Democratic Convention’s Concluding Session

On Thursday, the 2008 Democratic National Convention moved into Denver’s Invesco Field so that more Americans could be a part of the fourth and final night of the Convention, where Barack Obama accepted the historic Democratic nomination for President. A crowd of almost 85,000 people attended the convention’s assembly at Invesco to hear Senator Obama’s acceptance speech.

Oscar-winning singer and Broadway actress Jennifer Hudson sang the National Anthem, and there were a number of other live live musical performances, including appearances by will.i.am (accompanied by John Legend, Agape choir, and band), the singer Sheryl Crowe and the legendary Stevie Wonder.

Before Senator Obama’s acceptance speech, Former Vice-President Al Gore spoke in support of Obama. Gore expressed heated criticisms about a number of public policy positions held by both Senator McCain and President Bush. His criticisms pointed to a number of specific issues in areas that included the environment, the economy and foreign affairs. Following Al Gore’s remarks, a biographic video of Obama was shown, which was directed by Davis Guggenheim, the Oscar-winning Director of An Inconvenient Truth.

Dave Stewart’s All-Star Music Video: My American Prayer

Replay: A Live Blogging of the Entire Acceptance Speech Event

A Biographic Tribute Video: The Search for Self

All Across the Nation, Something is Stirring

Barack Obama addressed a crowd of almost 85,000 supporters at the concluding session of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver Thursday evening, accepting the historic Democratic nomination for President of the United States. By Friday morning, a true avalanche of reviews had appeared, articles by so-called political-pundits representing both the mainstream media and new media bloggers. Many of the reviewers were enthralled by Senator Obama’s speech, but others were left with mixed feelings. Of the latter, some felt that his address failed to display the soaring, inspirational oratory that was characteristic of Obama’s earlier speeches, while others naively complained that his speech was just a repeat of his high-minded oratory that lacked any substance or specifics.

The pundits who were critical tended to churn out reviews that reflected a tenuous ability to grasp deeper or complex meanings, reviews that were highly superficial. These political-pundits are often the media’s more well-known public voices, but voices whose body of writings generally reflects a narcissistic conviction of entitlement. In fact, the dangerously alarming truth of the matter is that they view political events that are crucial to all Americans as their own personal sparkling merry-go-round, where their last political love affair is simply an entrée to their next encounter.

In sharply defined contrast, Barack Obama is a deeply thoughtful man, a characteristic once again revealed in his talk with supporters in the Invesco stadium on Thursday evening, many of whom during various parts of his address listened quietly in personal contemplative concentration. Not only was Obama addressing in detail the specifics of his positions during the acceptance speech, but far beyond that he was teaching and thus sharing with his supporters an understanding of the logic of his positions, as well as the logic supporting his reasons for repudiating Senator McCain’s political beliefs. In this context, Senator Obama clarified for all of America the fundamental motivation underlying the choice to embark upon his improbable and difficult run for the presidency: that neither Senator McCain, nor President Bush, nor the Republican administration will own up to their failures and to the devastating, often tragic results of those failures.

Error
This video doesn’t exist

With Profound Gratitude and Great Humility, I Accept

Music Audio: The O’Jays/Love Train

Barack Obama Wins Historic Presidential Nomination

Please Remember Me and Bookmark This:

The World Honors Nelson Mandela: Madiba’s 90th Birthday Celebration

The World Celebrates Nelson Mandela’s 90th Birthday

Mandela’s Campaign Against South African Apartheid

On August 5th, 1962, Nelson Mandela was arrested after living in underground hiding for seventeen months, and was initially imprisoned in the Johannesburg Fort. He was imprisoned after being charged with involvement in planning armed action and a conspiracy to help other countries invade South Africa. The arrest was made possible because the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) tipped off South African security police as to Mandela’s whereabouts and disguise. Mandela was later imprisoned on Robben Island, where he remained for the next eighteen of his twenty-seven years in prison.

In March 1982, Mandela was transferred from Robben Island to Pollsmoor Prison, in part to enable discreet contact between him and the South African government. In 1990, State President F.W. de Klerk reversed the ban on anti-apartheid organizations, and announced that Mandela would shortly be released from prison. Mandela was released from Victor Verster Prison in Paarl on February 11th, 1990, an event that was broadcast live all over the world.

South Africa’s first multi-racial elections were held on April 27th, 1994. The African National Congress won 62% of the votes in the election, and Mandela, as leader of the ANC, was inaugurated on May 10th, 1994, as the country’s first Black President, with the National Party’s de Klerk as his first deputy. As President from 1994 until 1999, Mandela presided over the transition from minority rule and apartheid, winning international respect for his advocacy of national and international reconciliation.

Mandela’s leadership was recognized when he was awarded the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize.

Mandela’s London Arrival for the Birthday Celebrations

Nelson Mandela arrived in London on Monday, June 23rd, 2008, for a week of events to celebrate his 90th birthday. Mandela met with Queen Elizabeth II, as well as with a number of other high-profile celebrities who included Gordon Brown, the former U.S. president Bill Clinton and the talk-show host Oprah Winfrey. The outdoor concert in honor of the former South African President was scheduled to take place at Hyde Park, London, on Friday, June 29th, with performers including Amy Winehouse, Josh Groban, Annie Lennox, Leona Lewis, Queen and the Soweto Gospel Choir.

Celebrities Greet Mandela’s Arrival in London

Celebrating Mandela’s 90th Birthday: The 90th Birthday Concert

40,000 Fans Pay Tribute to Mandela

Will Smith charmed the huge 90th Birthday Concert crowd, and Amy Winehouse wowed them with her performance. However, Nelson Mandela proved to be the biggest star of all at the concert Friday in honor of the South African statesman’s 90th birthday.

Acts including Queen, Razorlight, Leona Lewis and a host of African stars joined more than 40,000 music fans for the outdoor show in London’s Hyde Park. Josh Groban and the Soweto Gospel Choir also performed at the event, which came 20 years after a 70th birthday concert for an absent Mandela at London’s Wembley Stadium. Mandela, an anti-apartheid activist, had at that point been imprisoned in South Africa for 25 years. He told Friday’s crowd that that concert made a big difference in his eventual release and the fight against the racist system, which was dismantled in the early 1990s.

Your voices carried across the water to inspire us in our prison cells far away,” said Mandela, who received the biggest cheers of the night. “We are honored to be back in London for this wonderful celebration.”

But even as we celebrate, let us remind ourselves that our work is far from complete.”

Mandela Speaks at the 90th Birthday Concert

Amy Winehouse Performances: Mandela’s 90th Birthday Concert

Josh Groban Performs at the Birthday Concert

TechnoratiTechnorati: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Please Remember Me and Bookmark This:

Obama Pride: Lavender Love

Barack Obama has had some pretty gay moments over the past few years, and by that we mean he has consistently mentioned gay communities in his stump speeches. Now some excited voter, or maybe even an Obamaniac, has collected some of Obama’s greatest same-sex hits into this meaty nine-minute Barackwurst. Relive Obama’s lavender love.

Obama Pride: Lavender Love

TechnoratiTechnorati: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Please Remember Me and Bookmark This:

Bob Dylan Gives Ringing Endorsement to Obama

Music Audio: Bob Dylan/The Times They are a-Changin’


In an exclusive interview with The Times (U.K.) yesterday, Bob Dylan gave a ringing endorsement to Barack Obama, the first-ever African-American presidential candidate, claiming that he is “redefining the nature of politics from the ground up.” Dylan’s 1964 song The Times They are a-Changin became the anthem for his generation, symbolizing the era-defining social struggle against the establishment. Now Bob Dylan, who could justifiably claim to be the architect of Barack Obama’s “change” catchphrase, has backed the Illinois senator to do for modern America what the generation before did in the 1960s. Dylan, 67, made his comments while being interviewed in Denmark, where he had stopped over in a hotel during a tour of Scandinavia.

Asked about his views on American politics, he said: “Well, you know right now America is in a state of upheaval. Poverty is demoralising. You can’t expect people to have the virtue of purity when they are poor. But we’ve got this guy now who is redefining the nature of politics from the ground up…Barack Obama. He’s redefining what a politician is, so we’ll have to see how things play out. Am I hopeful? Yes, I’m hopeful that things might change. Some things are going to have to.” He added: “You should always take the best from the past, leave the worst back there and go forward into the future.”

Dylan’s endorsement contains a great deal of symbolic significance. The legendary singer-songwriter, who has an art exhibition opening in London next week, became a focal point for young people worldwide when he released the album The Times They Are a-Changin’, including the famous song of that name, back in 1964. The track, which he wrote as the social liberation of the ’60s astonished politicians and parents, included lines urging people to accept and embrace what was happening around them.

Memorable lines included: “Come senators, congressmen, please heed the call. Don’t stand in the doorway, don’t block up the hall,” and: “Come mothers and fathers throughout the land, and don’t criticise what you can’t understand. Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command. Your old road is rapidly agin’.

The complete Times interview is here.

TechnoratiTechnorati: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: