To the Editor:
During my Bishop College days, I first heard of apartheid and the Free Nelson Mandela movement that was beginning to gain momentum.
In 1981, during a chapel service, Rev. Jesse Jackson discussed the atrocities of the South African apartheid system; however, the importance of Nelson Mandela, the Sullivan Principle and divesting from South Africa was not completely understood by my fellow colleagues or me. The only thing I understood about de-investment in South Africa at that time was that I should not buy Krugerrand (a South African-minted gold coin).
As a college student, purchasing Krugerrands was not high on my list of priorities; nevertheless, it wasn’t until the middle of the 1980s that I grasped the apartheid system and its impact on the people of South Africa. Apartheid was a diabolical and inhuman system of segregation that was legislated by the South African government. Discussions about South Africa took place around the United States as people became aware of the apartheid system and Nelson Mandela. During this time, many were critical of the position taken by President Ronald Reagan, who supported the South African government.
However, Mr. Nelson Mandela’s work as an attorney, activist, revolutionary and president made him a beacon of hope for many. In later years, after making a visit to post-apartheid South Africa, I developed an even greater appreciation and admiration for Mr. Nelson Mandela and his contribution to the world. He is a profound example of what it means to offer oneself as a servant leader.
Basic human rights are something that everyone should enjoy, and President Nelson Mandela stood as a symbol of hope for those rights. The world mourns his death, but celebrates the impact of his life, courage and strength.
God bless you, President Mandela. Rest in Peace.
Dr. Paul Lowe Jr.,
Pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church
Convicted for Convictions
To the Editor:
On Dec. 4th, 58 years and three days after the beginning of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the arrest of Rosa Parks, 12 of us in the original 17 Moral Monday arrestees were convicted for our convictions. Although the judge dismissed one charge and openly stated that several rules of the NC legislature were vague and unconstitutional, we were found guilty of second degree trespassing and breaking legislative rules. The rationale for our civil disobedience still stands and our lawyers have filed an appeal to Superior Court for a jury trial. We believe our lawyers made tremendous constitutional arguments that must be heard in a higher court, not a district court.
We do not believe that our actions were unjust, but that the extremism of Governor Pat McCrory, Speaker Thom Tillis, Senate Leader Phil Berger, and Budget Director Art Pope and their fellow extremists who have denied Medicaid to 500,000 people, cut unemployment benefits for 170,000 struggling North Carolinians, took away the Earned Income Tax Credit from over 900,000 poor families, passed the worst voter suppression bill in the nation since Jim Crow, attacked women’s rights, and cut public education are unjust. These actions are constitutionally inconsistent, morally indefensible and economically insane. We, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, Rev. Curtis Gatewood, Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, Rev. Nelson Johnson, Maria Teresa Palmer, Rev. Larry Reid, Sr., John (Bob) Zellner, Perri Morgan, O’Linda Gillis, Margaretta Belin, Dr. Timothy Tyson, and Barbara Zelter, like other Moral Monday arrestees before us, were convicted for our convictions …
We are glad to be in a state where people will stand up for the poor, the sick, children, labor rights, women and fundamental economic, social and gender equality. We will continue to mobilize and carry our moral message across the state.
Dr. William Barber, NC NAACP president