May 23, 2024

A Message to the UMW Community

To Members of the UMW Community:

Today we remember the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela, who passed away on Thursday at the age of 95.

Mandela, former president of South Africa and revolutionary leader, activist, freedom fighter, and heroic icon in the fight against apartheid, represented to many the moral voice of a nation, a political movement, and served as the soul of change—creating equality and freedom where none existed.

Mandela’s experience shared a common spirit with the U.S. civil rights movement of the ‘50s, ‘60s, and beyond, yet for Mandela his voice and activism resulted in 27 years of imprisonment by the apartheid government in control of South Africa at the time. Mandela was released from prison in 1990 and continued to be a strong voice for reconciliation and equality throughout his life.  On April 27, 1994, Mandela was elected President of South Africa by winning the first free, democratic election in that nation’s history.  As President, his demonstrated commitment to forgiveness, understanding, and peace served as a shining example to all the citizens of his nation and the world.

While we at Mary Washington are privileged to have James Farmer as an example and symbol representing the freedom and the battle against inequality, we acknowledge and treasure the foundation of change and freedom created by Nelson Mandela, as through his perseverance, humility, and passion he changed the path of history.

After the rain passes, the flags on Jefferson Square will fly at half-staff in honor of Nelson Mandela.

Richard V. Hurley