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The lasting impact of Nelson Mandela’s words

July 18 is celebrated around the world as a day of service to honor the birthday and legacy of former South African leader Nelson Mandela. He became known as Madiba – a human rights icon for his work to fight apartheid and for winning his presidency in a 1994 democratic election after serving 27 years in prison. He died in 2014 at age 95.

A fountain outside

A fountain outside the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, GA

Madiba was a friend to ONE and an inspiration to poverty-fighters for many decades in his long life. In February 2005, he gave a famous speech in London’s Trafalgar Square at the Make Poverty History rally.

“Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity,” Mandela told the crowd of 20,000. “It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life. While poverty persists, there is no true freedom.”

Mandela has inspired generations to overcome injustice around the world. This summer, we honored his legacy at the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta with a ONE event that urged young generations to continue the important human rights work that Mandela achieved when he inspired his country to end apartheid.

Nelson Mandela’s 29-year-old great-grandson, Luvuyo, visited The Center’s exhibitions, which showcase the stories behind the voices of the American Civil Rights Movement as well as global human rights movements. (Listen to his Atlanta radio interview with WABE’s Rose Scott and Denis O’Hayer HERE.)

While at The Center, Luvuyo spoke at a public forum about the link between South Africa’s civil and human rights movements and the 1960s Civil Rights Movement in America. After his talk, The Center’s events director, Dina Bailey, led a discussion that included remarks by ONE’s Southeast Field Director, Scoggins Berg, and an overview of African social entrepreneurship by CARE’s Late Lawson-Lartego. The audience’s questions focused on activism as avenues to improve human rights around the world.

CARE's Late with Luvuyo

CARE’s Late Lawson-Lartego with Luvuyo

Following the discussion, participants were able to learn more about the Electrify Africa Act and had the opportunity to sign a letter to their members of Congress. We are so excited that Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson and Representative John Lewis are both co-sponsoring this bill! It’s a great to see our members of Congress working together on an issue that’s so important to us.

We also got to take a fabulous #Strengthie with dozens of strong girls representing the 50 states as part of the Miss Black US Ambassador program. It was a powerful moment to see them standing underneath an image of Martin Luther King, Jr. after hearing from an inspiring member of the Mandela family.

A group #strengthie

A group #strengthie from the Miss Black US Ambassadors!

Powerful words make a lasting impact!

“We are all citizens of the world and as citizens it is our duty to help change it for the better.” – Luvuyo Mandela

Luvuyo’s words reminded us of one of our favorite quotes by his great-grandfather:

“Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”

We are thankful for the inspiration of Nelson Mandela. Poverty fighters, fight on!


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