Nelson Mandela, the icon who led the emancipation of South Africa from White minority rule and became South Africa’s first Black president, was both Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. He was an emblem of dignity and abstention. Imagine being jailed for 27 years, being humiliated and treated like dirt, and having your friends murdered systematically.
Yet his incredible sense of purpose and strength is a lesson for a lifetime. I remember years ago meeting a man in flight who is not Black and has since become a friend. He was born in South Africa, finished school, and voted for Mandela for president. Later he moved to the United States, became a U.S. citizen, is a businessman and voted for Barack Obama.
He is truly an African American inspired by Mandela, who beat the brutal apartheid regime. Mandela was a political activist and agitator. He blasted the Iraq War and American imperialism. He was highly critical of President Bush, who he accused of wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust.
“All that Mr. Bush wants is Iraqi oil,” he said. “If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don’t care,” he said. He called freedom from poverty a fundamental human right.
Mandela stood arm-in-arm with some of America’s biggest political enemies, and many Americans were angered by it. Get over it! Mandela was his own man.
He connected sports as a political force as president wearing the jersey of the captain of the mostly White Springbok rugby team at the 1995 world championship to congratulate them — but only in seeking peace and reconciliation with South Africa’s Whites, and only if Blacks received full rights as citizens. Mandela even called out racism in the United States.
Mandela was a little man in size, but make no mistake about it, he was a giant icon leader who transformed himself and his country. His combination of strength, temperament and will defined him.
Fitz Notes & Quotes
The 8-4 football Golden Gophers of Jerry Kill are headed to the Texas Bowl on December 27 vs. Syracuse.
Adrian Peterson, the Vikings star running back who left Sunday’s heartbreaking 29-26 loss to Super Bowl champion Baltimore is okay and might play Sunday vs. Philadelphia.
Congrats to Arizona Cardinals star Larry Fitzgerald, Jr., who Sunday had 12 catches for 96 yards in Arizona’s 30-10 win over St. Louis. He also scored his 10th touchdown of the season, making him just the ninth player in NFL history with 10 or more TDs five times in his career. He has scored a touchdown in four straight games. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board will honor Fitzgerald on January 20 with the Martin Luther King Achievement Award.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to [email protected], or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.