Today in Black History 07/18/2015 | Nelson Mandela - The Charles H. Wright Museum Blog

Today in Black History 07/18/2015 | Nelson Mandela

July 18, 1918 Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the first South African president elected in a fully representative democratic election, was born in Mvezo, South Africa. Mandela enrolled at Fort Hare University but was expelled because of his involvement in a Students’ Representative Council boycott against university policies. He completed his Bachelor of Arts degree and earned his law degree at the University of South Africa in 1942. Mandela became active in politics after 1948, playing a prominent role in the African National Congress’ 1952 Defiance Campaign and the 1955 Congress of the People. He became leader of the ANC’s armed wing in 1961 and coordinated sabotage campaigns against military and government targets. With the help of the United States Central Intelligence Agency, the South African government arrested Mandela in 1962 and he spent the next 27 years in prison. Following his release from prison in 1990, Mandela returned to the leadership of the ANC and between 1990 and 1994 led the party’s negotiations with the government for multi-racial elections. Mandela was elected President of South Africa in 1994 in the country’s first multi-racial election. He served as president until his retirement in 1999. He was listed as one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2004 and 2005 and one of the 100 Most Influential People of the Century. Mandela founded The Elders in 2007, a group of world leaders who contribute their wisdom and independent leadership to address the world’s toughest problems. He was also active in the fight against AIDS. Mandela received more than 250 awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize December 10, 1993 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor, from President George W. Bush July 9, 2002. The United Nations General Assembly announced in 2009 that July 18 would be known as Mandela Day to mark his contribution to world freedom. His autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom,” was published in 1994 and “Conversations with Myself,” a collection of his writings and interviews, was published in 2010. Mandela died December 5, 2013. His name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan.

 

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