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Chris V.
Democrat MD 8

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  • Nelson Mandela

    by Representative Chris Van Hollen

    Posted on 2013-12-12

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    VAN HOLLEN. I want to thank my friend, Mr. Fattah; my friend, Ms. Fudge; and the entire CBC for organizing this time to honor the life of Nelson Mandela.

    Nelson Mandela was a man who stood up so bravely to injustice. The power of his beautiful example inspired people around the world, stirred our hearts and stirred our conscience.

    It was Nelson Mandela and the injustice of apartheid that first moved me to political activism. At the time, I was a student at Swarthmore College in the State of Pennsylvania. I joined the Swarthmore Antiapartheid Committee to urge and petition Swarthmore College to divest from South Africa. Young people at colleges around the country were moved to action.

    I watched there as members of the Congressional Black Caucus here in the United States Congress worked to make sure that the United States stood up to the meaning that is in our founding creed that all people will be created equal. They were people like Congressman Gray and others, and Members who are members today of the CBC that are standing up.

    And then, in 1985, I had the privilege of going to work as one of the foreign policy advisers to a great Maryland Senator by the name of Mac Mathias, who served on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and was one of the sponsors of the legislation to impose economic sanctions against South Africa because of the evil of apartheid.

    It was Senator Mathias, Senator Kennedy, and Senator Lugar, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, working in the Senate along with the CBC in the House of Representatives and others who said the United States cannot stand by while the evil of apartheid is in place. We must answer the call of Nelson Mandela.

    {time} 2000 Certainly, my proudest moment as a staff member to Senator Mathias on those days on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was, first, when the United States Congress passed that legislation and then on a bipartisan basis overrode the veto of then-President Reagan, showing how the democratic process in this country would work to stand up for justice.

    As we confront issues here at home and around the world, we would do well by remembering the example of Nelson Mandela as we confront other issues of justice and peaceful reconciliation.

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