Nelson Mandelaby Representative Joyce Beatty
Posted on 2013-12-12
BEATTY. Thank you, Mr. Fattah, for organizing this Special Order
hour for us.
First, let me say, as I stand here today, I am honored to talk about a man who is hard to define because he is a man who gave so much of his life, a man who understood that his success would be the success of the people around him.
Yesterday, I returned from South Africa where I had the distinct honor and pleasure to pay tribute to a man who inspired billions, for his courage, for his commitment to people, for his fight for justice, for equality, and for freedom.
Hundreds of thousands of people from around the world came there, witnessed it through electronic media, and gave their final respects to a man we love so dearly and call Madiba, a most beloved leader who liberated South Africa from apartheid. They waited for hours. They lined up. They filled the streets. And there I was, this new freshman with my Congressional Black Caucus members and Members from this Congress.
So I say to our chairwoman and president of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, a job well done for leading us, and to Congressman Aaron Schock, thank you for leading us on this delegation.
And as I sat there with my colleagues, we witnessed the spirit, the culture, and the evidence that a great man has gone on. We watched the spirit and the rhythm of the toyi-toyi and the dancers. And as the memorial service began, to have our President of these United States come and pay tribute to Nelson, within itself was a great honor.
Before his election in 1994, he gave up so much to rid his country of injustice. As we know, he spent 27 years, almost a third of his life, in prison, most of that time on Robben Island, which I had the opportunity to visit. Fourteen years living in a small cell without water or accommodations for his personal needs speaks volumes for him.
But to be able to see this firsthand, what Mandela endured in that tiny, isolated cell when I was there, to set his people free. Time and time again, Nelson Mandela had taught the world many powerful lessons about justice, tolerance, and reconciliation. He astonished us all with his ability to forgive, something that we should remember on this House floor, including his forgiveness for those who jailed him and persecuted his family.
Nelson Mandela, lastly, believed in people. He believed in communities. He believed in countries. And he believed in world change for the better, something that I think we are witnessing now with our first President of these United States, a man of color. So I say to us, let us remember his words. It seems impossible until it is done.
To you, Madiba, we say, a job well done. God bless you.