April , 2019

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Rep. Ford to name Cicero Avenue after Mandela

By Chinta Strausberg

As the world mourns the death of the iconic former South African President Nelson Mandela, local leaders say his spirit will live on forever and that the greatest gift he leaves as his legacy is his teaching the world how to forgive their enemies.

Born Rolihlahla Dalibhunga Mandela, Nelson Mandela died at the age of 95 after a very long illness. He is considered a martyr because of his fight to end South Africa’s oppressive apartheid system and his resultant imprisonment at Robben Island for 27-years.

Rather than to make a plea deal and get out sooner, Mandela, the author of “Long Walk to Freedom,” stood his ground and refused to compromise his opinions on ending apartheid, but though the was forced to break rocks into gravel, but it was the love he showed while in prison that won over his enemies.

It was love for all mankind even his jailers that helped him to become the first democratically elected president of South Africa.

Robert Starks, professor emeritus at Northeastern University, said, “Mr. Mandela was one of the greatest men of the 20th Century. I was excited to meet him after chairing his visit to Chicago and Operation PUSH. He was very kind and down to earth. He and Dr. King are two of my heroes.”

Nelson Mandela may be gone but his spirit will forever live on as an example of how to forgive our enemies.

Saying the spirit of Mandela will live on and that his teaching the world the art of forgiveness is admirable, Starks added, “however, while we can forgive, we can never forget.”

“We mourn his loss, but it is the lessons of his life that we must not lose…..to refuse to compromise, to know how to forgive, to fight for what is right and to be willing to struggle for what is just,” said Father Michael L. Pfleger, senior pastor at Saint Sabina.

Rev. Thulani Magwaza, pastor of Saint Sabina who is from South Africa, said, “One of the quotes from Mr. Mandela that inspires me is, “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we live.”

Illinois State Rep. La Shawn K. Ford (D-8th) is proposing to change the name of the entire length of Cicero Avenue, which runs from Chicago into the suburbs, in honor of Mr. Mandela.

“President Nelson Mandela is an inspiration to many and has been an example during our own lifetimes of the power of love, reconciliation, and non-violent resistance, following in the line

of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” said Ford.

“It is a small gesture to change the name of a road from Cicero Avenue to Mandela Road, but it will help us to remember that even with Nelson Mandela’s death, we must continue to drive for excellence for the whole human race. Illinois Route 50 is the perfect state highway to be renamed, as it crosses so many different communities and will remind us of the almost miraculous work that Nelson Mandela undertook as he brought together people in his own country and all over the world to advance peace, democracy and opportunity.

His work should be an inspiration for us to work for these same goals,” said Ford.

“President Barack Obama also spoke out on Mr. Mandela’s death. “We will not likely see the likes of Nelson Mandela again,” the President said. “So it falls to us as best we can to forward the example that he set:  to make decisions guided not by hate, but by love; to never discount the difference that one person can make; to strive for a future that is worthy of his sacrifice.”

Obama called Mandela “a man who took history in his hands, and bent the arc of the moral universe toward justice.”

Editor’s Note: Chinta Strausberg covered Nelson Mandela when he came to Chicago in 1993.

Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host. You can e-mail Strausberg at: Chintabernie@aol.com.

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