Reflections on Mandela's Legacy

Kathryn Lachman

I learned of Mandela's death while waiting in Boston's Logan Airport to board a flight to London and Cape Town. As my two young boys hovered on the window ledge watching airplanes maneuver in the night, a text arrived from a close friend: “What a momentous time to be traveling to South Africa.” As I puzzled out the sense of her words, the news came in that Madiba had passed away. The man who embodied reconciliation, dignity, and tolerance—not only to South Africans, but to people everywhere—was no longer of this world.

A Toast to Amiri

Giorgio Rimondi

Who knows what he would have said,
if some cold winter morning they gave him
the news he died.
Maybe he’d remember having written

When they say “It is Roi
who is dead?” I wonder
who will they mean?

A High Note

James Smethurst

As I read various accounts of Amiri Baraka’s life, one thing that I think often gets somewhat misunderstood is his early career in the bohemia of downtown New York City. Frequently, he is represented as a follower of white “beats” in a very pale environment. Of course, he did have something of an apprentice period after his arrival in NYC in the late 1950s, following his discharge from the Air Force. However, rather than being a follower, he quickly became a leader in a counterculture with a very strong black presence. He shaped that counterculture at least as much as it shaped him.

...und ver nit fahrbrent

Jules Chametzky

Some years back I served with the late Kenneth Libo—who did wonderful work as chief researcher and contributor to Irving Howe’s magisterial and indispensable World of Our Fathers—on an advisory committee for a projected documentary on Abraham Cahan, the fabled editor for fifty years of the Yiddish language Forverts. As part of his research Libo spoke with the then Editors of the Forverts (social democratic), the Freiheit (communist), and the Arbeiter Tseitung (anarchist), all of them in their nineties, all writing in Yiddish.

Pity the Land that Has No Heroes...

Peggy Hicks

I have very few heroes. Who does, these days? Maybe that’s why the loss of Nelson Mandela seems to compel such reflection. Maybe it’s because another of my heroes, former US Congressman Howard Wolpe, passed away two years ago, and for me the legacies of Wolpe and Mandela are inextricably bound together. Growing up in Michigan, I knew little of Africa, and less about apartheid. But in the 1970s, I met Wolpe, first when I was a babysitter for his son, and later as a volunteer on his congressional campaign.


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