Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Bankole Thompson Michigan Chronicle Senior Editor
As world leaders meet in South Africa this week to pay their last respects to Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid icon and one of the most inspiring leaders of the 20th century, Detroit is not being left out. The Motor City is being represented at the global event by some of the city’s leaders from across the political and religious communities.
Congressman John Conyers, dean of the Congressional Black Caucus and the highest-ranking Democrat in the House Judiciary Committee, joined 25 other members of the U.S. Congress as part of the official congressional delegation to South Africa to honor the legend of Mandela, whose struggles for equality mirrored the civil rights battles in America.
Conyers was part of an international memorial service held Tuesday, Dec. 10, at Soweto’s FNB Stadium in Johannesburg attended by 91 heads of state including President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama as well as former presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter. Pope Francis, the head of the Catholic Church, British Prime Minister David Cameron, President of France Francois Hollande, President of Ireland Michael Higgins, President of Nigeria Goodluck Jonathan, Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper, Oprah Winfrey and other figures and icons in religion, politics, arts, sports and entertainment also were in attendance at the service, which also marked the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Some leaders from around the world are arriving in the middle of the week to attend Mandela’s solemn funeral on Dec. 15 at his hometown of Qunu where he requested to be buried.
Bishop P.A. Brooks, senior pastor of New St. Paul Tabernacle Church of God in Christ (COGIC), who is the first assistant presiding bishop of COGIC, the largest African American Christian denomination of 6.5 million members with strong evangelical presence in Africa, left Tuesday morning for South Africa to attend the funeral.
The funeral on Sunday, just like the memorial service held Tuesday, will have the attendance of world leaders including Prince Charles of Wales, the heir to the British throne, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Muqrin bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, the Norweigan Crown Prince top government officials from Saudi Arabia and other world leaders
“I remember when I landed at the airport in South Africa with former mayor Coleman Young and our delegation, Mandela was there to welcome us,” Brooks recalled. “As soon as we landed, he recognized me because I was a principle member of the Detroit group of dignitaries that welcomed him to Detroit with Rosa Parks.”
Brooks, Young and other leaders in the city traveled to South Africa then after Mandela’s release from prison to present him with a million dollar check. To this day the city has been credited to have given the most financial support of any other city in America to Mandela following his prison release.
“I remember going to his house and have had the opportunity to interact with him two years before he became president of South Africa,” Brooks said. “While many spoke to him and shook his hand on American soil, I was humbled to have met and engaged the man on his own soil from where he transformed the world and inspired all of us.”
Brooks said Mandela’s funeral is an extremely important event that not only belongs to the annals of global history, but also one that will be talked about and reflected upon for generations to come.
Because of what he described as a deep sense of historical and spiritual obligation as a minister, Bishop Brooks said, “I must attend this generational tribute as a minister who continues to capture firsthand experiences of life-changing events and to preach it to my members. As a public figure I cannot but share in this generational experience with families and individuals who are keenly observing what is happening with the honor that Mandela is receiving.”
The Church of God in Christ, which Brooks serves as the second in command, has a vibrant presence in South Africa with outreach ministries.
On its website, Charles E. Blake, the presiding bishop of COGIC, said the church “pays homage and salutes Madiba.”
Bishop Blake said, “I had the opportunity to visit Robben Island. Standing in the place where this great man spent time praying and believing that one day he could make a difference was powerful and humbling. The strength, tenacity and courage of Mandela will always be remembered. The words of Madiba remind us of what it takes to be a great leader.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 December 2013 10:39
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
NELSON MANDELA reads the Michigan Chronicle aboard an airplane
In his classic “The Brothers Karamazov,” Fyodor Dostoevsky renders the moral and epic battle of faith and perseverance for mankind, where the forces of good and evil came to meet and were forced to face the ultimate question: Will good triumph over evil?
And when we think about a conflict between good and evil, about good triumphing over evil, we think of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela’s battle against apartheid in South Africa, one of the greatest evils in human history.
The critical Black social thinker W.E.B Du Bois was correct in labeling apartheid in South Africa as “a medieval slave-ridden oligarchy,” that sought to dehumanize, castrate and render men and women in their own land politically, socially and economically impotent.
The world stood by for a long time and others sat on the sidelines refusing to intervene in the moral and political battle before unrelenting activists, advocates and sympathizers of the African National Congress (ANC), including students on college campuses around the world, shamed double-talking leaders including former Republican President Ronald Reagan and former conservative British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who were engaging in so-called “constructive engagement” with a racist regime that was enforcing slavery while dismissing and castigating the ANC’s righteous battle to end apartheid.
Today as we mourn the passing of this political lion and liberator we are accustomed to calling “Madiba,” who has touched millions of lives, we look at how ultimately he and his colleagues in the liberation movement with the support of human rights defenders finally removed this scourge on history.
Like Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” reminds us that despite the whirlwind of changes facing our time we must seize the day, Mandela’s demise marks the death of democracy’s greatest salesman of this era, providing us another chance to not only seize the day but to articulate a new vision for a new generation, especially those who are not familiar with the battle that Mandela waged in the last century.
Mandela’s pilgrimage on this earth, defending the rights of ordinary South Africans uncompromisingly as he sought to sell democracy as the best political tool to empower any society, is a strong reminder of his commitment to the struggle and dignity of those who were made to feel like 3/5 of a human being as Blacks were once considered here in the U.S.
That is why the fight against apartheid mirrored what took place in the Civil Rights Movement and bears so many parallels.
When apartheid was instituted in 1948 by the National Party in South Africa led by its prime architect, D.F. Malan, until it was finally abolished in 1994 with Mandela’s election as the first democratically elected president, Black civil rights advocates were also fighting segregation in the South to desegregate lunch counters, neighborhoods, buses and schools.
In fact, the Jim Crow laws that began in 1890 classifying African Americans separate but equal later on set the stage for the institution of apartheid in South Africa by the White minority that was only 20 percent of the population. Jim Crow gave birth to apartheid because if the world’s largest super power that led nations out of World War I and World War II, parading as a paragon of global democracy, could allow a segment of its people (African Americans) to be treated inferior, dehumanized and lynched, what did we expect of lesser powerful nations like South Africa?
The battles against Jim Crow and apartheid took on a more profound sense when Mandela and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., two accidental leaders, came onto the world stage to make compelling moral and common sense cases to end the twin struggles.
That is why apartheid was the number one foreign policy issue on most college campuses across America, with the creation of divestment movements, forcing major corporations to stop doing business with the South African government.
Although Mandela and King never met, both shared a mission to address injustice and sacrificed their lives for it.
King was assassinated and Mandela spent 27 years in prison, still refusingto allow his spirit to be broken, and he came out a wholesome person, not a bitter or broken man. Even though his detractors expected that when he came out of prison he would fail because he had been away for nearly three decades. Mandela came out more sound and shocked his captors.
Facing the ultimate price with your life has been the hallmark of many mass liberation struggles across continents. That is why in remembering Mandela, many today are focused on a solemn paragraph from a four-hour speech he gave at the Rivonia trial that would send him to jail for 27 years.
“I have fought against White domination and I have fought against Black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” — Nobel Laureate Mandela in his own words from the dock at the Rivonia trial before the Pretoria Supreme Court, June 11, 1964.
In modern political history, rarely has a political prisoner used his trial to render a powerful and cogent argument with intellectual and historical depth to indict the system of injustice that was getting ready to send him away for decades.
Mandela was in full control of his destiny and his mind.
After his famous “I am Prepared to Die” speech, Mandela and seven others, including Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Raymond Mhlaba, Elias Motsoaledi, Andrew Mlangeni, Ahmed Kathrada and Denis Golberg, would be convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.
On Feb. 11, 1990, Mandela came out of Victor Vester prison. His release was symbolic as well as pragmatic for Blacks in South Africa and around the world. The essence of his 27-year imprisonment and subsequent release provided the political framework for emancipation struggles involving oppressed people around the globe.
From the streets of Detroit, which led mass demonstrations, to the towns and villages in Nigeria whose leaders supported Mandela, the cries of liberation could be heard just as in the film “Sarafina.”
Even as Mandela is leaving us at the age of 95 on Sunday when he will be buried at his boyhood home of Qunu, he leaves behind a legacy for the global struggle for human rights as well as a nation that is still mired in the fight for economic justice for the masses of Black South Africans.
Detroit, which raised a million dollars for Mandela after his visit to the Motor City at Tiger Stadium, should aptly name a street or an educational institution after him. If the city of London in Britain, whose government once derided him, can erect a life-size statue of Mandela alongside British war heroes, Detroit, which supported the anti-apartheid movement, can name a street or school after him to honor his legendary lighthouse global statesmanship.
Like Mandela’s South Africa, Detroit also reminds us of the conflicts of the past, the cultural struggles and the drive for economic empowerment — the ever present need to affirm the rights and dignity of all — the very principles that gave Mandela his mission and established the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 — the same year that apartheid was born.
It is no coincidence that Mandela’s memorial service held Tuesday. Dec. 10, at Soweto’s FNB Stadium and attended by more than 100 heads of states including President Barack Obama, is the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which among other things affirms that “every human being is born free, equal in dignity and right.”
Even in death, Mandela’s family, associates and colleagues in the liberation fight made sure his memory is tied to the universal principles of human rights that informed his philosophy.
His absence should force us into a unified moment in which everyone plays a significant role to foster common interests and goals.
Because as King stated, “We are all caught up in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. What affects one directly affects all indirectly.”
Everyone mourning the loss of Mandela has a challenge to make a lasting difference in communities connected by highways and freeways in this state and Detroit in particular. And any serious political leadership that aims to empower economically starving communities would work towards creating possibilities and action-oriented programs that would lead to well-paying jobs.
Political freedom is an achievement, but economic opportunities with sound policies that do not undercut the road for real economic transformation is what South Africa needs and is what Detroit is badly in need of.
I asked South African entrepreneur Neil du Preez, about Mandela.
“Mandela’s vision, courage and leadership inspired all. He fought for social justice and his ability for forgiveness and reconciliation left a permanent legacy on a strong, united and democratic South Africa,” Preez said. “The best tribute that business, government, and civil society can give him is to work together to improve the quality of life of all South Africans.”
Bishop Ed Bilong, a South African evangelist, put it this way: “Well, Madiba was a father to all, the ultimate believer in the Black race. He inspired everyone of us to believe that nothing in this world is easy and yet nothing is impossible.”
The riveting worldwide response to Mandela’s death shows his impact far beyond South Africa.
President Obama at the memorial rightly put Mandela in the context of global history, comparing him to King, Mahatma Ghandi, Abraham Lincoln and America’s founding fathers, calling the anti-apartheid icon “the last great liberator of the 20th century.”
“Like Gandhi, he would lead a resistance movement, a movement that at its start had little prospect for success. Like Dr. King, he would give potent voice to the claims of the oppressed and the moral necessity of racial justice. He would endure a brutal imprisonment that began in the time of Kennedy and Khrushchev, and reached the final days of the Cold War,” Obama told thousands in Johannesburg.
“Emerging from prison, without the force of arms, he would, like Abraham Lincoln, hold his country together when it threatened to break apart. And like America’s Founding Fathers, he would erect a constitutional order to preserve freedom for future generations, a commitment to democracy and rule of law ratified not only by his election, but by his willingness to step down from power after only one term.”
This is truly Mandela’s legacy.
And at the end of the day when the evening candlelight is deemed and the hour is late, all that will be asked of us also is our legacy.
From our legacy to the fulfillment of Mandela’s unfulfilled dreams, the common aspirations of Detroiters to the very ideas that informed the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal, we cannot abandon the responsibility to pass the substance of this moment to the next generation.
Understanding Mandela’s legacy would mean working for economic freedom and eliminating social inequities.
Mandela did his part even though he lamented that more needs to be done to combat what he called the enemies of Ghandi who influenced him and identifying them as “ignorance, disease, unemployment, poverty and violence,” that he said are commonplace in South Africa.
While unveiling a Ghandi memorial three years after his release, he called for “Unity, so that our children can walk in peace and learn in purpose. Unity, so that our aged can live out the rest of their lives in dignity. Unity, so that we can build one nation one people one country.”
Mandela was one of two non-Indians to receive the Asian global powerhouse’s highest civilian honor, the Bharat Ratna (Jewel of India) award in 1990. The other recipient was Mother Theresa.
In 1998, Mandela came to Harvard University to receive an award at a special convocation. Only two leaders have been given such an award by the university, George Washington and Winston Churchill.
In his speech Mandela said, “To join George Washington and Winston Churchill as the other recipients of such an award conferred at a specially convened convocation is not only a singular honor. It also holds great symbolic significance — to the mind and to the future memory of this great American institution, the name of an African is now added to those two illustrious leaders of the Western world.”
Mandela took great pride in his African identity and espoused it.
Dr. Curtis Ivery, chancellor of Wayne County Community College District, paid tribute to Mandela.
“President Mandela stands among our greatest leaders whose influence changes the very course of history itself. His life was dedicated toward the betterment of humanity, above all else. And though his death marks one kind of passing, his legacy, his spirit and what he taught the world about our collective powers to achieve freedom and equality for all people will forever thrive,” Ivery said.
In 2008, two years before he bowed out of the public stage, Madiba issued a warning at the conclusion of a London celebration in his honor before a crowd of 46,000.
“Madiba” urged, “Our work is for freedom for all. We say tonight, after nearly 90 years of life, it is time for new hands to lift the burdens. It is in your hands now. I thank you.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 December 2013 09:53
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by AJ Williams, Chronicle Web Editor
POTUS Barack Obama delivered a powerful tribute Tuesday morning at the memorial service for the late South African President Nelson Mandela.
Watch President's Speech:
Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 December 2013 08:13
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by CNN News
Mourners pause for a prayer during the Nelson Mandela memorial service at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on Tuesday, December 10. Thousands of South Africans and more than 90 heads of state gathered to honor the revered leader, who died Thursday, December 5, at age 95.
Mandela's ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, left, and his widow, Graca Machel, right, sit near each other during the memorial service.
Former Archbishop Desmond Tutu, right, arrives with former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan at FNB Stadium.
Singer Bono and actress Charlize Theron attend the memorial service.
World leaders, including former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, top second left, and French President Francois Hollande, top second right, attend the memorial service.
A man clutches the official program in Johannesburg.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 December 2013 07:20
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by News One
United States President Barack Obama and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will be among world leaders speaking at a mass memorial service for Nelson Mandela.
South Africa’s government released the list of speakers for the Tuesday memorial, expected to last four hours at stadium at Soweto Township near Johannesburg.
Beyond Obama and Ban, the government says the following leaders will speak:
- Brazil President Dilma Rousseff;
- Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao;
- Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba;
- Indian President Pranab Mukherjee; and
- Cuban President Raul Castro.
South African President Jacob Zuma will give the keynote address.
Mandela’s family and friends also will speak at the ceremony, which will include a sermon.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 December 2013 07:07
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by CNN News
Johannesburg (CNN) -- Presidents and prime ministers, celebrities and royals joined tens of thousands of South Africans to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela on Tuesday, in a memorial service celebrating a man seen as a global symbol of reconciliation.
In what has been billed as one of the largest gatherings of global leaders in recent history, world leaders from President Barack Obama to Cuba's Raul Castro gathered alongside street sweepers, actors and religious figures to pay tribute to the revered statesman who died last Thursday.
Despite the heavy rain, the atmosphere inside Johannesburg 's FNB stadium was celebratory, with people dancing, blowing "vuvuzela" plastic horns and singing songs from the anti-apartheid struggle.
Many carried banners honoring "Madiba," Mandela's traditional clan name, or his picture. Others were draped in materials covered with his face or the green, yellow, black, red and blue colors of the South African flag.
Some had skipped work and queued for hours to secure a seat so that they could pay their respects at the stadium where Mandela delivered his first major speech after his release from prison.
The four-hour service began with a military band playing the national anthem before South Africa's presidents -- past and present -- were introduced. There was a loud cheer from the crowd for F.W. de Klerk, the last leader of white South Africa, who shared a Nobel Peace Prize with Mandela for helping to end apartheid.
The joyous cries died down as speeches from Mandela's family members as well as a fellow Robben Island prison inmate began. Anguished faces listened quietly as a sorrowful chant to "Tata Madiba" filled the air. "Tata" means "father" in Mandela's Xhosa tribe.
The stadium, which can seat around 90,000 people, filled up as guests such as British Prime Minister David Cameron, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, a speaker at the event, and Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf arrived. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu and South African President Jacob Zuma were among the first to arrive at the stadium.
The world has lost a friend and mentor, Ban said at the service. "We join together in sorrow for a mighty loss and the celebration of a mighty life. What a wonderful display of this 'Rainbow Nation.' "
Members of The Elders, a group of retired statesmen founded by Mandela and others were also in attendance, including former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.
The crowds cheered loudly and clapped as a huge screen showed famous faces, namely for the arrival of Obama.
The world of entertainment also was well represented, with South African actress Charlize Theron and U2's Bono in attendance.
Mandela's widow, Graca Machel, and his former wife Winnie Mandela embraced and kissed as they arrived.
Paying tribute to his uncle, General Thanduxolo Mandela gave thanks to the outpouring of respect from around the world.
"This universal show of unity is a true reflection of all that Madiba stood for -- peace, justice, unity of all mankind," he said.
"Let us pledge to keep Madiba's dream alive."
With 91 heads of state attending, security was tight.
Four presidents head to Mandela funeral Mandela memorial security preps Mandela through the years
Working off plans developed for years in secret, the South African government is using an elite military task force, sniper teams and canine teams to help secure the stadium, CNN's Arwa Damon reported Monday. In addition, helicopters and military jets frequently fly overhead.
"Should anybody, anything dare to disturb or disrupt this period of mourning and finally taking and accompanying the former president to his last resting place, then that person will be dealt with," Brig. Gen. Xolani Mabanga said Monday.
South African officials won't give details about their security plans -- how many police officers, how many troops, precautions to keep the stadium weapons- and explosives-free.
"But we can assure that all necessary steps have been taken, and that is why the leadership of the world and former leaders of the world have confidence to come to our country at this time to share with us this moment," said Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane.
The event promises to rival other significant state funerals in recent decades, such as that of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1965 and the 2008 funeral of Pope John Paul II, which attracted some 2 million people to Rome -- among them four kings, five queens, at least 70 presidents and prime ministers and the leaders of 14 other faiths.
At that event, metal detectors and some 15,000 members of security forces stood watch.
Security was also stepped up outside Mandela's home, where crowds showed up with umbrellas to show their appreciation of a man they said represented unity. Some even said they missed work for the occasion.
"We want to respect our father of the nation, our father of the country. That is why we left work to pay that respect to him," one South African told CNN.
"We have not heard any concerns," Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters aboard Air Force One as President Barack Obama flew to South Africa.
"The South Africans hosted the World Cup, so they have experience hosting significant crowds and managing events like this, although clearly this is really a unique event in world history, given the number of leaders coming to pay their respects, as well as the people of South Africa."
Given Mandela's ailing health, the U.S. Secret Service made some arrangements in advance, a Secret Service spokesman said. But work that would usually take months to complete has been done in less than a week, the spokesman said.
"It's a compressed timeline, but there are certain protocols we must have in place for any trip," the spokesman said.
Those protocols involve securing the president's motorcade route and hotel rooms and doing security walk-throughs.
The spokesman declined to offer specific details on security measures at the stadium.
While Tuesday's memorial is the first major event honoring Mandela since his death, it won't be the last.
A state funeral will be held Sunday in Mandela's ancestral hometown of Qunu in South Africa's Eastern Cape province.
Presidents set to speak at service
Among the speakers at Tuesday's memorial will be Obama, who like Mandela was his nation's first black president. Obama has cited Mandela as his own inspiration for entering politics.
Other guests include the Prince of Wales, Cameron, as well as celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and Naomi Campbell.
Crews worked overtime Monday to prepare stadium or the service.
The government has set up overflow locations at stadiums and other facilities throughout the country.
With private vehicles banned from the area around the stadium, the government pressed buses from around the country into service and stepped up train service to move the crowds.
In Soweto township, where Mandela lived before he was imprisoned for 27 years, people waited for three hours for buses to take them to the stadium. Unfazed by the wait, they sang and danced.
In addition to Obama and Ban, the presidents of Brazil, Namibia, India, Cuba and South Africa are expected to speak at the service, as are family members, friends and others.
South Africa's Parliament reconvened Monday for an afternoon of speeches and memorials to Mandela. Dozens of members of parliament spoke.
"The world over, his name has evolved into a metaphor," Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said. "The name Nelson Mandela has entered the pantheon of history's sages."
Out of the public eye, friends who had not seen each other in years have been coming together with Mandela's family in his home, said Zelda la Grange, Mandela's longtime personal assistant.
Mandela called la Grange his "rock," even though she seemed an unlikely confidante. She was a white Afrikaner and an employee of the former apartheid government.
In her first interview since Mandela's death, she described the mood in his home to CNN's Robyn Curnow on Monday.
"Obviously there's sadness in the house," she said, but also, "People are celebrating Madiba's life. They are grateful." She referred to Mandela by his well-known clan name.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 December 2013 07:01
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by News One
President Barack Obama is calling on Congress to extend benefits for the long-term unemployed before they expire at the end of the year.
In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama says more than one million Americans will lose benefits if lawmakers don’t act. He says unemployment insurance is one of the most effective ways to boost the economy and that providing benefits does not stop people from trying to find work.
Watch President Obama speak on unemployment benefits below:
Last Updated on Monday, 09 December 2013 07:05
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Bankole Thompson Michigan Chronicle Senior Editor
“I have fought against White domination and I have fought against Black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal, which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
Nobel Laureate Nelson Mandela in his own words from the dock at the Rivonia trial before the Pretoria Supreme Court, June 11, 1964. After his famous “I am Prepared to Die” speech, Mandela and seven others, including Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Raymond Mhlaba, Elias Motsoaledi, Andrew Mlangeni, Ahmed Kathrada and Denis Golberg would be convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.
What was their crime?
For standing against a brutal and racist apartheid regime that shamelessly carried out well orchestrated economic subjugation and blatant dehumanization against a race of people in the face of an international community that stood by and watched as Mandela and his colleagues were rushed to prison.
On Feb. 11, 1990, Mandela came out of Robben Island. His release was symbolic as well as pragmatic for Blacks in South Africa and around the world. The essence of his 27-year imprisonment and subsequent release provided the political framework for emancipation struggles involving oppressed people around the globe. From the streets of Detroit, which led mass demonstrations, to the towns and villages in Nigeria whose leaders supported Mandela, the cries of liberation could be heard just as in the film “Sarafina.”
Mandela died today at 95 after a long battle with lung cancer leaving behind a nation that is still mired in the struggle for economic justice for the masses of Black South Africans.
In South Africa he is called “Tata,” which means “father”; some say “Madiba,” which refers to the clan he belongs to; and still others call him “Khulu,” which means “great” or “paramount.”
In Detroit we should name a street or an educational institution after Mandela. If the city of London in Britain can erect a life-size statue of Mandela alongside British war heroes, Detroit, which is the Mecca of Black America, should name a street or school after Mandela to honor his legendary lighthouse global statesmanship.
Leadership is not only parading the emblem of being the largest African American conclave in the nation. Leadership means also honoring the lives of those who have been remarkably pivotal in the battle for political and economic emancipation of an oppressed people. Too often the habitual form of celebration in the Black community is to wait for such exemplary leaders to pass away before any concrete show of respect and observance of their legacy is instituted.
It is instructive that Detroit was one of the first places Mandela made his triumphant entry in 1990 for a major rally at the Tiger stadium after his release from jail. It was not surprising that after getting off the plane at the airport in Detroit, one of the first persons Mandela recognized among the entourage (including Mayor Coleman A. Young) that came out to meet him was Rosa Parks, matriarch of the Civil Rights Movement who had chosen Detroit as her home.
“He is the epicenter of the African liberation movement. His magnificent legacy and work is worthy of honor and respect globally,” Detroit City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson told me when Mandela turned 90. “I remember when he came to Detroit for the city-wide tribute. While New York City spent three days raising money for him, Detroit did it in one day.”
Yes. That again is no mistake because to know Detroit’s history is to understand that it is a place rooted in popular struggle and mass mobilization; it is where Martin Luther King Jr. first delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech and Malcolm X gave his “The Ballot or the Bullet” presentation. It is the home of Albert Cleage Jr. where he gave a different meaning to Christianity, emphasizing a Black theology that advocates the empowerment of the Black community. Detroiters, both Black and White, recognized the significance of what was going on in South Africa.
I recall three years before she died, former Detroit City Council President Maryann Mahaffey engaged me in a deep conversation at her office about her view of the world. Mahaffey was not the typical politician.. She was always accessible to the media, myself and other city beat reporters covering city hall for interviews or disentangling any complicated public policy. She was upfront, and always made it clear where she stood: the spirited fight to uplift the underprivileged.
And so in my conversation with Mahaffey she recounted so many stories about her life. But one that stood out the most and showed the nexus between Detroit and South Africa was her arrest in front of the South African Embassy in Washington, D.C., for demonstrating against the apartheid regime..
Out of all her noble work, Mahaffey’s anti-apartheid moment in Washington, D.C., helped to define her legacy as a White woman who did not pander to race and racism but the commonality of the struggles of the underclass across races.
Political freedom is an achievement. Economic opportunities with sound policies that do not undercut the road for real economic transformation is what South Africa and any other developing nation or struggling city needs. Any serious political leadership that aims to empower economically starving communities would work towards creating possibilities and action-oriented programs that would lead to well-paying jobs. A hungry community or nation cannot feed on empty fiery rhetoric as Mugabe is forcing his people to do or sing refrains of “Gloriana Africana.”
Understanding Mandela’s legacy on his death would mean working for economic freedom. Nelson Mandela did his part.
He issued this warning at the conclusion of a London celebration in his honor before a crowd of 46,000.
“Madiba” urged, “Our work is for freedom for all. We say tonight, after nearly 90 years of life, it is time for new hands to lift the burdens. It is in your hands now, I thank you.”
Last Updated on Thursday, 05 December 2013 19:45
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by AJ Williams, Chronicle Web Editor
The auction house Christie's put a price tag on one of Detroit's highest-profile assets - the city's share of the Detroit Institute of Arts collection - but the masterworks might not be worth enough to help the city out of its financial crisis.
Christie's said on Wednesday that nearly 3,000 works controlled by the city are worth between $452 million and $866 million. The appraisal surprised some experts who thought the works, which include masterpieces by van Gogh and Matisse, might be worth more.
The finding by Christie's, hired to place a value on art treasures that have become a point of heated debate over the past few months in the city and its suburbs, could become a contested element of the Detroit bankruptcy if the city tries to "monetize" its masterpieces. The report puts a range of value on 2,781 works owned or partially owned by the city.
Christie's also proposed five alternatives to an outright sale of the art, including using the collection as collateral for a loan to the city.
The holdings represent only about 5 percent of the total number of art pieces in DIA's collection. But Christie's, which sought to appraise the most valuable pieces in the city-owned collection, stated that 11 of those pieces account for 75 percent of the total value of all appraised pieces.
With the finding Tuesday that Detroit is bankrupt under Chapter 9 of the federal bankruptcy code, it is possible the city may seek to monetize some of the artwork. With debts totaling $18.5 billion, Detroit may need to sell all or part of the DIA collection as part of its plan to emerge from bankruptcy.
But the relatively low price range Christie's assigned to the collection could make the art a less vital asset than some observers had expected, said Michael Bennett, a law professor at Northeastern University and a bankruptcy expert who has written about the plight of the DIA.
"If Christie's is saying that we'd be looking at something less than $1 billion, and perhaps something significantly less than $1 billion, in proceeds from a sale, clearly that's not even a drop in the bucket if you bear in mind the magnitude of the financial deficit of the city," Bennett said.
Christie's report did not specify the works that were appraised, but some of the most best-known works owned by the city include an 1887 self-portrait by Vincent van Gogh and Henri Matisse's "The Window," an oil painting of a turqouise-shaded drawing room.
Another highlight: a rare 1566 painting, "The Wedding Dance," by Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder, that depicts a joyous wedding party.
In its report to the city, Christie's proposed five potential approaches to monetize the collection without having to sell it. Options including use of city-owned works as collateral; long-term leases; and sales to philanthropists who might loan pieces back to the city could be used in combination to raise funds for the cash-strapped city, the auction house said.
"The current robust global art market coupled with the fact that the city-owned collection contains some high-quality and valuable works, suggest this could be an effective financing arrangement," Christie's America President Doug Woodham said about the proposed use of the collection as collateral for a line of credit.
The city could raise money from a traveling exhibition of select DIA pieces and might create a "masterpiece trust," selling shares in city-owned works to other museums, Christie's said.
The DIA declined to comment on the appraisal but said in a statement that it "continues to maintain its position that the museum collection is a cultural resource, not a municipal asset." The museum also said that if the collection were threatened, it would be "committed to taking appropriate action to preserve this cultural birthright for future generations.
Bill Nowling, a spokesman for Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
With Wednesday's report, Christie's has completed two of three phases of appraisal assigned to it when Orr retained the auction house in August: valuing 319 city-owned works on view in the museum's galleries, then appraising pieces in storage estimated to be worth more than $50,000.
The third phase involves lesser works in storage and should be completed later this month.
Christie's sought to appraise the DIA art at fair market value, the price at which a piece would be sold in an appropriate market.
The market for fine art has sizzled this year. Francis Bacon's "Three Studies of Lucian Freud" fetched a record-breaking $142 million in a Christie's sale last month. The Nov. 13 auction in New York brought in $691 million, the highest in art market history, and prompted talk of a bubble.
'DELAYS THE INEVITABLE'
Detroit's options for the DIA could be limited by resistance from surrounding suburbs. In 2012, voters in Detroit and the three suburban counties voted to increase property taxes to help cover the DIA's operating expenses, and suburban officials have threatened to quit sending tax proceeds, which provide about two-thirds of the museum's budget of about $35 million, if DIA art is sold.
But Orr has maintained that the city must value all of the city's assets, including the art. He also has said the city is looking at other assets to monetize, including the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, Coleman A. Young International Airport or other city-owned parking lots or land.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes in his ruling Tuesday warned that asset sales will not provide a solution to Detroit's long-term financial problems.
"A one-time infusion of cash, whether from an asset sale or borrowing, delays the inevitable," he said.
A group of the city's largest creditors last month asked Rhodes to approve an independent valuation of the DIA's collection. Also last month, a federal judge acting as chief mediator in the bankruptcy case put forward a proposal that a group of non-profit foundations could create a fund to protect the DIA's city-owned art.
Last Updated on Thursday, 05 December 2013 23:43
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by AJ Williams, Chronicle Web Editor
Wayne S. Brown, Director of Music and Opera for the National Endowment for the Arts since 1997 and a native Detroiter, has been named President and CEO of the Michigan Opera Theatre (MOT) effective January 1. He succeeds David DiChiera who founded MOT in 1971 and has served as General Director of the theatre since its inception. Dr. DiChiera will remain as Artistic Director.
"We are thrilled to have a man of Wayne Brown's experience and vision to take over the role that David has so capably carried out for so many years," said Rick Williams, MOT chairman. "And we are delighted that David will continue as artistic director, the role that's always been closest to his heart."
DiChiera announced in February that he planned to step down from his role as General Director to focus on the artistic and production side of the theatre. A search committee, including Dr. DiChiera, has been reviewing and interviewing candidates for the position since that time. Brown is the committee's unanimous and enthusiastic choice to join David as the organization moves into the next chapter in its development.
"We considered a variety of candidates with a variety of backgrounds, candidates from across the country, and none of them equaled Wayne's level of experience and enthusiasm for the job. He has a glittering professional record, is a nationally recognized and respected figure in the arts community, and isas thrilled to be coming home to Detroit as we are to have him," Williams said.
In addition to managing grants for music and opera projects at the NEA, Brown directed the NEA Jazz
Masters Fellowships, the nation's highest honor in jazz. Prior to his affiliation with the NEA he served as producer of music programs for the Cultural Olympiad in Atlanta, GA, where he managed music events associated with the 1996 Olympic Games. He also is a former executive director of the Louisville Orchestra and was a founding member of the "Magic in Music" advisory committee for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Brown began his career with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra where he was instrumental in bringing about the DSO's first annual Classical Roots Concert. He is a graduate of the Music School at the University of Michigan.
"Coming home to Michigan to be part of the city's transformation and to work side-by-side with a legend like David DiChiera is a huge honor for me," said Brown. "It's an opportunity of a lifetime and I look forward to building on the enormous strides David, the Board and the staff have made in making MOT one of the premier opera companies in the United States. I can't wait to get started."
"This is a win-win situation for Wayne, for David, for MOT and for the City of Detroit," Williams said. "David has been the inspiration and the power behind MOT for decades and we're blessed that he wants to continue to play an active role. Having Wayne here to lead the team, direct day to day operations, and build the plan for the future was our major priority and will allow David to focus on the part of the business he loves most. We couldn't have asked for a better outcome."
Underscoring the enthusiasm over today's announcement, Marc Scorca, President of Opera America, said, "The appointment of Wayne Brown as President and CEO of Michigan Opera Theatre is tremendously exciting. Wayne will arrive at the company with an established national reputation, an incomparable knowledge of artistic trends and best management practices, and an unparalleled level of goodwill among his opera colleagues. He has a long-standing commitment to Detroit and its cultural community and will build on the strong foundation laid by David DiChiera."
Last Updated on Thursday, 05 December 2013 13:40
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