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Professors and students remembered the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela Monday evening where professors shared what they believed the impact Mandela had on Israel-Palestine, Puerto Rico, Ireland and their field of study.
The event was sponsored by the Philosophy and Political Science and the Department of Cultural and Global Engagement’s Albert Schweitzer Institute.
Mandela, the first South African president, fought against the South African apartheid and advocated for equality.
“[Schweitzer Professor of Philosophy Anat Biletzki] and I were mourning the loss of Mandela and decided we needed to do something as a community to remember him by,” Executive Director of Albert Schweitzer Institute David Ives said. “Often some people can forget about him and they shouldn’t.”
Biletzki connected South America’s struggle with injustice to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Mandela to the jailed Palestinian Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti.
“I heard [Mandela] once at Harvard and I just started crying from pure jealousy because I’m just very jealous of a place that had Mandela,” Biletzki said. “For me, Mandela stands for South Africa. And South Africa, Ireland and Israel-Palestine are for me the icons of injustices, historical injustices and revolutions that did or did not work and because his worked I have some hope for Israel-Palestine.”
Associate Professor of Political Science Cassandra Veney compared Jim Crow America to South Africa’s apartheid and how Mandela affected her.
“We will always, always hold him dear to our heart,” she said. “He was a great statesmen and will always be a great statesman to talk about human rights and human dignity.”
Senior Aine McKeever’s interest in Mandela springs from the impact he had on the leaders of her home country of Ireland and the conflict in Northern Ireland.
“For someone to believe in justice and in right for his people and for the time that he spent in jail in order to achieve that justice and right is phenomenal and something that not very many people can say they have done,” she said. “I wanted to pay tribute in any possible way I could to a man that is basically the definition of justice.”
Ives said Mandela’s lessons of forgiveness have had the greatest impact on him.
“That’s a model for other people around the world as we tried to show tonight with different people from Ireland and Palestine and Puerto Rico and other places where they have people in jail,” he said. “His legacy is to come out smiling and forgiving.”