Posted by Jeremy Pittenger on January 20, 2014
On Thursday, January 16, during an evening program in Crimi Auditorium, Crystal Hart, AU ’14, and other AU students participated in an event celebrating the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela. In the spirit of sharing with the greater community, Hart’s remarks appear below.
Reflection on Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela believed in the power of education. He lived a life devoted to the importance of learning—believing that education was a critical factor in terminating apartheid. He once stated, “Education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world.” I believe this with my whole heart.
As an Aurora University student, I can proudly say that I love this school. This university has granted me the greatest gift that I could have ever received. The opportunity to receive an education free of bigotry, free of ignorance, and free of everything short of greatness, is a gift that I will always treasure. The faculty and staff of this university have empowered me to believe that all of my educational goals can and will be achieved.
Nelson Mandela also emphasized the importance of racial reconciliation. After apartheid, racial reconciliation was a process that helped facilitate healing and unity between races in South Africa. Racial reconciliation is not something that should be limited to South Africa. It should be facilitated within each and every one of us.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and Mandela each endured hardships while standing up to ignorance and injustice. The struggle for equality of all races affected them greatly. It is in this struggle that the world saw their true character and true strength.
The character and strength of King and Mandela led them to have the ability to influence the world. Their influence will live forever. Their influence had the power to change lives. Their influence had the power to change attitudes. Their influence had the power to change nations. It took their spark of courage and determination to create the fire that stood up to injustice. As I reflect on the power of King and Mandela’s influence, I realize that the same power lies in each and every one of us in this room. We have the power to influence the people around us. The power of our actions, our words and our determination is endless.
Racism is still present in the world that we live in today. It is up to everyone to pull down their veil of suspicions of “the other” race. No longer should we practice racial toleration, but rather diversity celebration. We are all unique and special. No race is greater than the other. My dream is the same as King’s: that one day we will live in a world free of discrimination and hate. Nelson Mandela once stated, “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” This quote is so powerful. We as a human race are not free from our own chains of discrimination unless we live in such a way that enhances the freedom of our fellow man.
The life and legacy of Nelson Mandela is something that will live to inspire the world. His life was full of courage, determination and love for his fellow man. His life has impacted the world. His legacy will be in our hearts forever. I will conclude this reflection with an excerpt of Dr. Maya Angelou’s tribute poem to Nelson Mandela:
“We will not forget you, we will not dishonor you, we will remember and be glad that you lived among us, that you taught us, and that you loved us all.”