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The Life and Legacy of Nelson Mandela is Being Celebrated at JSU

By Lawayne Childrey | Published 13 Dec 2013 12:53am | comments

Mississippians are joining thousands of people around the world in remembering former South African President Nelson Mandela.  MPB's Lawayne Childrey attended an event at Jackson State University in honor of South Africa's first black president.

Dance, Song and drama highlighted the Jackson State University ceremony honoring the life and legacy of  former South African President Nelson Mandela.  Mandela served as South Africa's first black President from 1994 to 1999. His government focused on dismantling the oppression of apartheid. Dr. Rico Chapman teaches African History at JSU and likens the apartheid system to that of Americas Jim Crow Era. 

"Of course we had to go in the back of the restaurant to get a meal. We couldn't sit at the lunch counter. We couldn't go to school with Caucasians or Europeans. We couldn't attend their churches or hospitals and even cemetery's were segregated so it was basically the same in South Africa."

Before becoming President Mandela served 27 years in prison for leading a campaign against the South African form of government. He was finally released in 1990 as the structure of apartheid crumbled. JSU, psychology and theater major, Charency Higgins says Mandela left a lasting legacy for young people to follow.

"We have to be that change makers and the ones to go forward because it’s our future. And Nelson who died at the age of 95 started when he was very young so that's something for us as a generation to look up to."

Dr. Mark Henderson Chairs the schools department of speech and theater. He compares the teachings of Nelson Mandela to those of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"A man who decided to be unselfish about what he wanted to do to help bridge the gap between the races. So that struggle was one that when people stop seeing you as human and reduce you to less than humanity then it becomes all of our issue not just a South African issue but a humanity issue."

President Mandela's body will lie in state through today. A private burial will be held Sunday. Lawayne Childrey MPB News.






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