Speech of the Day 7/18/13: Nelson Mandela

Thu, 07/18/2013

Nelson Mandela

 

In honor of his 95th birthday, today's Speech of the Day comes from Nelson Mandela.

This is the speech he gave in his own defense from the dock in the trial that would eventually send him to prison for 27 years, first (and most famously) at Robben Island.

As much as anything, this is a speech about what Mandela believed, his ideals and his commitment to those ideals:

"Above all, My Lord, we want equal political rights, because without them our disabilities will be permanent. I know this sounds revolutionary to the whites in this country, because the majority of voters will be Africans. This makes the white man fear democracy.

But this fear cannot be allowed to stand in the way of the only solution which will guarantee racial harmony and freedom for all. It is not true that the enfranchisement of all will result in racial domination. Political division, based on colour, is entirely artificial and, when it disappears, so will the domination of one colour group by another. The ANC has spent half a century fighting against racialism. When it triumphs as it certainly must, it will not change that policy.

This then is what the ANC is fighting. Our struggle is a truly national one. It is a struggle of the African people, inspired by our own suffering and our own experience. It is a struggle for the right to live. [someone coughs]

During my lifetime I have dedicated my life to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live for and to see realised. But, My Lord, if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."

 

You can read the entire speech here.

 

Happy Birthday, Mr. President. And feel better soon.

 

And because birthdays deserve music, I thought I'd break this one out--one of my most vivid memories from the day Mandela was released. From Saturday Night Live, I present, Quincy Jones.