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Friday, December 6, 2013

Tribute to Nelson Mandela

December 6, 2013

From: Lendley C. Black, Chancellor

To: Students, Faculty, and Staff

Re: Tribute to Nelson Madiba Mandela: An International Embodiment of Justice For All

We are saddened by the news that Nelson Madiba Mandela (1918-2013) passed away yesterday in Johannesburg, South Africa at the age of 95. Mandela's lifelong commitment to social justice for the oppressed and his affirmation of human rights became a beacon that touched every corner of the globe.

UMD will be celebrating the life and legacy of Mandela on Tuesday, December 10th from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. in the Kirby Ballroom. Students, faculty, staff, and the Duluth and Northland communities are cordially invited to come reflect on Mandela's life, works, and contributions to the world. Please come and share your thoughts of how Nelson Mandela impacted your life.

Imprisoned for his anti-apartheid stance against white-minority rule in his native South Africa for 27 years, Mandela was eventually released to become the first democratically elected President of South Africa in 1994. During his tenure as President, he promoted equality and racial justice, dismantled the structures of apartheid, spoke truth to power, and forged racial harmony and social inclusion among all people in South Africa. A Nobel Laureate, Mandela healed his nation from the wounds of apartheid and de jure segregation, thus teaching the world that the use of violence to hold on to power and the oppression of the down trodden cannot be justified under any circumstances.

Today, we mourn his loss and celebrate his legacy. Mandela teaches us that the arch of oppression eventually tilts toward social justice, equality, and the respect for tolerance. Above all, his message of reconciliation with those who opposed him teaches us to sow seeds of social justice wherever we can, and to work tirelessly to improve the human condition by building a beloved global community in which the rights of all shall be protected.

Mandela's humility, quest for social equity, and his cry of freedom for his native South Africans, will forever be remembered. He will continue to occupy a special place in the hearts and minds of the world community because of what he stood for. And like Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948) and Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), Mandela's contributions and ideals to the advancement of humanity are immeasurable.

Please join me in celebrating the life and times of this global icon. While we celebrate his life's work, let us redouble our efforts in making our campus and global community a place where the legacy and vision of Mandela thrives. In celebrating his memory, let us also be reminded that it takes everyone, the community, and the world at-large to fight and oppose injustice wherever it may be present.

Thank you.