The United States of America have come a long way with the way people different ethnicities and races are treated as a whole. Our nation has once
struggled with the acceptance of people with diverse backgrounds and skin color.
Although as a whole we have encountered a harsh and difficult journey to get
where we are now, our past is full of hate and distastefulness regarding one
another. Jamestown, Virginia was where slavery was first originated when 20
African slaves where transferred via Dutch ship on shore the British colony in
1619. Living conditions on board the slave ships were miserable, often
subjecting not only the captives but as well as the crew to disease (fever,
dysentery, smallpox, etc.). Due to very little or no sanitation and no food, an
estimated 2 million African American slaves died of either sickness or starvation
on route. African American women, men and children were separated with men
below the deck and women and children were held in other parts of the ship.
With women and children sometimes on deck with the crew, they were
subjectified to abuse and sexual harassment such as rape. It wasnt uncommon
that uproars of slaves on board these ships arranged plans to rebel and bring
down the crew holding them captive. Perhaps one of the most famous rebellions
transpired on the Amistad, January 1839, during route to Havana, Cuba. Once
the slaves were secured and shackled ensuring they wouldnt escape, three days
later, a brave captive by the African name Sengbe Pieh (Cinque) freed himself
from his confinement and formulated a plan to return the ship to Africa. During
the execution of this plan the slaves killed most of the crew. Attempting to return
The Amistad back to Africa took a lengthy 63 days. Once the ship arrived on shore in Montauk Point, Long Island, the United States government immediately
seized it resulting in the slaves being charged with piracy and murder. As
Spaniards ripped Africans from their homes and out beneath their own covers,
they not only damaged the Africans but the homeland they were so wrongly
taken from. The affect of the international slave trade on Africa brought great despair and tragedy, the death toll reached great heights, as economic and
environmental devastation resulting from wars were unbelievably skyrocketing.
Military actions such as gassing left the elderly and infants to either be killed or
starve. The international slave trade not only took toll demographically but
socially and politically as well. Socially, established communities relocated out of
the slavers route to stay as safe and far away as possible. As a result of this
time that would have been devoted to advancing technology and bettering the
land as a whole was instead directed towards hiding and defending themselves.
Politically, the ties between religious communities, ethnic groups, kingdoms and rulers and subjects were left transformed. Subsequently the triangular slave trade left the continent underdeveloped and vulnerable. As most people sat by and watched what was occurring a brave and strong individual dreamt of making his own contribution to the freedom struggle of his people. Nelson Mandela, South African activist and former president, is known for helping bring the apartheid where white and black people in South Africa lived separate lives, to an end. Mandela is also widely recognized for being an advocate for human rights. While Mandela was growing up he witnessed basic rights for blacks being denied things that should be available to both and all groups be limited to whites and forbidden for blacks. Activities such as voting, marrying whites, drinking from same water fountains, using hospitals and an equal education were hindered for blacks and aimed mostly for whites. However, Mandela believed that everyone should be treated equally. Mandela held such disgust for the unfairness of the way people were treated, he stated that I hate discrimination most intensely and in all its manifestations, I have fought it all during my life; I fight it now, and will do so until the end of my days. (Biography.com, Nelson Mandela Biography, Biography.com). And Nelson Mandela did just that. In 1956 Mandela and 150 others were arrested and charged with treason for their political advocacy, these beliefs encouraged Mandela to direct a peaceful campaign free of violence as an act of defiance against the South African government. While Nelson Mandela was confined for 27 years in prison, he developed tuberculosis and the color of his skin granted him the lowest level of treatment of hospitality from prison workers. On February 11, 1990 Frederik Willem de Klerk authorized Nelson Mandelas release from solitary confinement. Frederik also unbanned he ANC, a liberation movement formed in 1912 to unite the African people, and removed restrictions on political groups and suspended executions. Upon his release the changes he had on slavery and the world were evident. Nelson Mandela showed people that a single person could be a catalyst and he wasnt afraid to be that one person. As Mandela worded it There is no passion to be found playing small in setting for a life that is less than one you are capable of living. (Red.org, 8 Ways Nelson Mandela Changed the World, Red.org). Former president Mandela also comprehend that while it is crucial to forgive, history must never forget its tormented past. Mandela desired remembrance instead of revenge. He understood that the key to keep moving progressively forward as a nation, understanding and learning from its troubled past was needed. Mandela also set an example of dedication, courage, and sacrifice for all peoples. Mandela refused to protect and defend himself in order to not legitimatize the charges being used against him. Multiples times the government tried to level with Mandela offering him to be set free if he did not engage in any political activities once considered a free man. Mandela did not take the offer refusing, he replied I cannot and will not give any undertaking at a time when I and you, the people, are not free your freedom and mine cannot be separated. (Red.org, 8 Ways Nelson Mandela Changed the World, Red.org). Not only did Mandela fill his followers with hope and righteousness he gave an education to rural students. In 2007 Mandela founded the Nelson Mandela Institute for Rural Development and Education to tutor and send high quality teachers to rural areas where education wasnt as progressive and caught up to date as the other parts of the world. Mandela declared, Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. (Globalcitizen.org, 7 Ways Nelson Mandelas Legacy Still Resonates Today, Globalcitizen.org). The world has come a long way with slavery and the differences between skin color determining the way you were treated and what you could do or achieve. So how are thing in South Africa today? Optimists say it remains the most advanced country in Africa with thriving cities that are integrated into the global economy. Millions of blacks have been educated and raised out of poverty. The countrys broad success offers hope for others on a troubled continent. But many also agree with them when they say the countrys leaders have fallen far short of the moral example and high standards set by Mandela. Nelson Mandela has proved to be a brave, strong individual who voiced what he knew was right and fought to make that a reality.