Nelson Mandela

Keynote address at MLK Memorial Dedication Ceremony
“Remembering a Man, a Dream, and a Change”
Thank you Ms. Winfrey.
Good afternoon King family, Ms. Oprah Winfrey, President Bill Clinton, Mr. John Lewis,
Reverend (Berry) Barry Black, Freedom Fighters, Oppression Diminishers, Peace Seekers,
Justice Finders, Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends and Comrades:1
“We2 feel especially honored, and privileged, to have the possibility today, to stand at this
particular place, to speak to all of you,”3 who are here, to honor Doctor Martin Luther King
Junior and the movement he fostered.
Today “all of us, by our presence here, and by our celebrations,”4 confer a man, a dream, and a
movement—with an eminent, permanent, and prominent statue of stone.5 To remember a man
in a prefecture, dedicated to the trestles that structure this great nation.
The locality of such a profound remembrance, will summon people to gather and encourage
reflection—on a time when freedom and rights were not just or equal—in a nation that was said
to be the land of the free.
This memorial monument, lies as an equal, amongst fore leaders of this great nation. Erected to
stand in the middle of two dedications, of two great presidential men of this nation.6 One man
fought for the creation, of the free land we stand upon. The other man united a nation, suffering
differences and granted freedom to all those who still lived without.
The journey for civil and human rights did not—has not ended with the passing of time.
Unfortunately, the fight still continues—in this country and in countries around the world.
In Nelson Mandela’s Speech to the United Nations Special Committee Against Apartheid, he opens with a long
opening addressing as many of his audience members as possible. I tried to incorporate that same style, but because
many of the people in attendance are unidentified, I created titles for them. Nelson Mandela also likes to say friends
and comrades when addressing an audience, so I included friends and comrades in his opening address to the
audience. From Nelson Mandela, “Speech to the United Nations Special Committee Against Apartheid”
2 Mandela never uses I in his speeches. He is a humble man who references we instead.
Direct quote pulled from the opening of Mandela’s Presidential Inaugural Address. Nelson Mandela. “Presidential
Inaugural Speech,” (accessed
November 19, 2011).
This direct quote is pulled from the opening of Mandela’s Presidential Inaugural Address. His syntax is unique
and eloquent; I found this quote appropriate for the keynote speech, the event and occasion. Nelson Mandela.
“Presidential Inaugural Speech,”
(accessed November 19, 2011).
5 The material of the memorial is stone and the concept of the memorial is from Martin Luther King Jr.’s I have a
dream speech: "Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope." Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King, Jr. National
Memorial. “About the Memorial.” National Memorial Project Foundation,
L9MVJxE/b.7548977/k.8C6B/Design_Elements.htm (accessed November 18, 2011).
6 Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial. “About the Memorial.” National Memorial Project
Foundation. (accessed
November 18, 2011).
This place—this remembrance, represents a pastime of change. A change that has reached and
inspired—that will persist, to inspire millions, who are still denied the natural given right of
humanity… Freedom…
A pandemic has spread—world wide—caring a dream, the dream—his dream… The dream for
justice, non-racism, democracy, and freedom for all people. Turning such a dream to actuality
is not an easily travelled path. Freedom comes with a price—“and many of us, have passed
through the valley of the shadow of death, again and again before reaching the mountaintop of
our desires.” 7
We have fought together, lost together, mourned together, and triumphed together to unite and
“spur the determination of all humanity, never again to permit racist theory, and practice to
dragoon the world, into the deathly clutches of war and genocide.”8
“We stand here today as nothing more than a representative, of the millions of people, who
dared to rise up against a social system, whose very essence is war, violence, racism,
oppression, repression and the impoverishment of an entire people.”9
“Let the strivings of us all proceed to prove Martin Luther King Junior, to have been correct,
when he said that humanity, can no longer be tragically bound, to the starless midnight of
racism and war.”10
Only we can correct the institutionalized humanity of the world, and lead it down a path of unity,
and equality. We have to be willing to emerge from the darkness, to begin the long journey of
institutional correction.
United we can follow a journey, to liberate the oppressors11 of the world. There is still a long
way to go on our journey, but progress can be witnessed—here, and today. Today, we live in a
society, that believes in pushing boundaries and expanding into a place of sameness.
Today we deliberate at the Mountain of Despair to celebrate an emergent Stone of Hope,12 “a
victory in hand, a dream fulfilled, the triumph of justice over a tyrannical past, the realization
of the vision enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights…”13
Quote pulled from Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela. “Quotes.”
/author/quotes/367338.Nelson_Mandela (accessed November 19, 2011).
Quote Nelson Mandela. “Speech to the United Nations Special Committee Against Apartheid.” (accessed November
20, 2011).
Quote from Nelson Mandela. “Nobel Lecture.” (accessed November 20, 2011).
Quote from Nelson Mandela found on Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory. “Foundation Remembers Martin
Luther King Jr.” Nelson Mandela Foundation. (accessed
November 20, 2011).
Nelson Mandela used the word oppression a lot in his interviews and speeches.
The mountain of despair and stone of hope come from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” Speech. It is
also what is written and symbolized through the monument. Pulled from C-SPAN Video Library. “Martin Luther
King Memorial Dedication.” CSPAN. (accessed November 20, 2011).
Today, we celebrate a man, who did not absent from fear, who did not allow fear to conquest,
and who rose in triumph over fear, to bloom courage, and lead a movement of change. It is in his
example that we should continue to move forward…
It is easier to wallow, into malevolent consumptions of revulsion, revenge, and rabidity than it
is to escalate absolution, allegiance, and amity.
But we rose above the darkness of oppression, and did not try to drive out darkness with
darkness. We chose light.
We did not necessitate hate with more hate. We choose love...14
The choice to choose reconciliation and non-violence—to preach, to practice love, and
understanding in a battle to slay the oppressive forces, that beat down on the world is not easy.
But we did!
“Resentment is like drinking poison, and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”15 Resentment
settles into the soul of individuals and spreads individually—like a disease, it destroys beauty in
a group. Resentment is unhappy—living unhappy is no way to live.
We choose to not escalate our fight for humanity, with blood shed. Instead we choose what is
best for the common good. We choose to rise “above the narrow confines of individualistic
concerns, to the broader concerns of all humanity.”16
No—we were not always granted the same respect in return for our peace. We have instead
endured unjust prosecution, restless attacks on ourselves and families, lived through physical
and mental grievances, made sacrifices, and put faith into a cause that brought hope for a
change in society.
So, we drew inspiration from ancestors, friends, comrades, family, and strangers—to stand
up for the divine right of humanity—the right to be free. We drew inspiration from men, and
women, of all skins and religions, who were no different from us, and whose names now flood
our minds and books with their courage and bravery to vanquish, the poisoned oppressive
thoughts, in the minds of those who feared, and did not understand the fight and desire of
Quote Nelson Mandela. “Speech to the United Nations Special Committee Against Apartheid.” (accessed November
20, 2011).
14 Adapted from a quote by Martin Luther King Jr. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
15 Quote pulled from Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela. “Quotes.”
/author/quotes/367338.Nelson_Mandela (accessed November 19, 2011).
16 Quote pulled from Martin Luther King Jr. “Quotes.” (accessed November 20, 2011).
Maybe it is because, one cannot understand, the value of freedom, when one has possessed the
right since birth.
“Education, is the most powerful weapon, which you can use, to change the world.” 17
Ignorance is an instigator of fear—prejudice—abhorrence—revulsion and all the negativities
associated with the companions of oppression. Violence will only fuel their misdirected beliefs.
Education is our secret weapon— with it, we can terminate the fires burning the fear,
injustice, prejudice, racism, and inhuman behaviors of the world.
We must all become educators in this world. We must all be inspired and inspire others for
society to move forward—to create change—to continue a dream, confessed forty-eight years
ago, on the steps of the memorial, in whose shadows you sit today.
Not today, not this month—not this year, and maybe not during this generation—but one day
we will all be able to echo Martin Luther King Junior’s words… “Free at last, Free at last,
Thank god almighty we are free at last…” 18
Thank you and God bless.
Quote pulled from Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela. “Quotes.”
/author/quotes/367338.Nelson_Mandela (accessed November 19, 2011).
18 Quote pulled from Martin Luther King Jr. “Quotes.” (accessed November 20, 2011).