Nelson Mandela’s legacy is being honored this week and in the weeks to come by American community colleges. “His influence on the role of education in building peace and promoting nonviolence was profound,” stated David J. Smith editor of Peacebuilding in Community Colleges: A Teaching Resource. “His message was particularly important to populations around world living under oppressive conditions that might otherwise consider violence as a means to change. His story of one who lived under apartheid, was imprisoned yet advocated reconciliation and forgiveness is powerful for those living under tyranny today,” he added.
Golden West College (CA) will host a vigil for Nelson Mandela on December 10 at the college’s peace pole where students will share quotes and reflect on his life. Tulsa Community College (OK) plans on mounting a gallery exhibit in a main hall at its Southeast Campus on Mandela’s life and influence in February. Onondaga Community College (NY) joined the nation in lowering its flags to honor Mandela’s life. Allegany College of Maryland students will be placing Mandela quotes up in the college’s student union and running video clips of his life on December 11. Also, they will hold a moment of silence to honor his work of advancing peace and reconciliation. Greenfield Community College’s (MA) library has compiled educational resources about Mandela, the history of South Africa, and struggle to overcome apartheid for the public to borrow. Northampton Community College (PA) and the College of DuPage (IL) posted tributes on their websites. Seattle Central Community College (WA) awarded Mandela an honorary degree in 1999 which was recalled in an online feature from the college.
Community college faculty shared in the classroom Mandela’s work. As reported in the North Andover (MA) Eagle-Tribune on 12/7/13:
Stephen Russell, a professor of history and government at Northern Essex Community College, showed students a video clip about Mandela.
“It got us thinking about those days when he changed the country and showed what could be done by one person,” Russell said.
Russell admired Mandela’s sense of reconciliation after spending 27 years for his political beliefs.
“His willingness to talk to his adversaries and work with them was truly remarkable,” Russell said. “That’s really leadership — to go to those that kept you in jail and work with them.”
The Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg, South Africa has created a website for providing messages of condolences. It is also a resource on the life and work of Nelson Mandela.