Pittsburghers respond to Mandela’s death

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“Next to my daddy he was the greatest man alive. Any man who could stand before a judge who said if you renounce ‘any means necessary’ to remove the government, you can go home–and so ‘no I can’t do that’ is a hell of a man. He did 27 years for that. All he had to do was recant, but he wouldn’t. Could you do that? I couldn’t.”—Louis “Hop” Kendrick

“There will most likely never be one individual who could so profoundly affect the entire planet and who could do so with such grace, power, effectiveness and dignity.  We are all challenged by Mr. Mandela’s legacy to emulate this magnificent man, if only in a small way.”—Tim Stevens

“What he meant is so huge, it’s difficult for me to encapsulate. I went to Africa in the early 1970s to support African liberation and the African National Congress. When I came back I joined other activists protesting apartheid by picketing a coin shop selling Krugerrands. All of us remember where we were and what we were doing when he was released in 1990 and again when he was elected in 1994. He gave us all a sense of victory and pride, and hope–because if he could beat Apartheid, there was hope for the Civil Rights struggle here.—Sala Udin

“For Nelson to come through all that–with the U.S., Britain and others supporting his jailers–speaks volumes about his courage. As part of Pittsburghers Against Apartheid, we did what Nelson asked. He said he would take care of the struggle inside South Africa and that we, on the outside, should raise our voices against government support of the minority White regime. We protested outside the South African Consulate downtown every day.  It was funny, when I went to Soldiers and Sailors to see him in 1991, a lot of us from PAA weren’t on the list to get tickets, but that go fixed. Then I get inside, and I see a thousand people and I’m thinking, where were they when we were downtown protesting the Krugerrand and getting arrested.”—Gail Austin

“We are likely never to see another like him. I can’t imagine anyone having the courage to stay in prison for 26 years when he could have walked out at any time by recanting. And then to not be bitter, to not seek vengeance is beyond my reality. I am in total awe of him.”—Ralph Procter

On Sunday Dec. 15, Transafrica, in conjunction with the US Steelworkers, the A. Phillip Randolph Institute and the Pittsburgh Black Political Convention will hold a Nelson Mandela Tribute at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center from 2-5 p.m. Actor and Activist Danny Glover is also scheduled to appear.

(Send comments to cmorrow@newpittsburgh­courier.com.)

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