It was more than an auspicious occasion. Certain Detroiters who were there might have dubbed it a once-in-a-lifetime event, or living history. In 1990, Detroit hosted the “return” of Nelson Mandela, who spoke to a crowd of thousands at Tiger Stadium. A return, because Mandela had been imprisoned for 27 years for his activism and fight for black freedom – and, four months after his release, made a special stop in Detroit for several events, including that memorable rally.
The South African, who became the first black president of his home country in 1994, died in 2013. To mark Mandela’s July 18 centennial birth date, the Wright Museum hosts The Year of Reparations: Repairing & Building Our Global Communities – The Centennial Celebration of Nelson Mandela. Anti-apartheid activist, law professor and author of The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks, Randall Robinson, provides a lecture, Q&A and book signing. Robinson views Mandela’s example as more relevant than ever before.
“People of good will across the United States – and indeed the world – saw a grievous injustice in apartheid and, following the lead of the ANC, decided to do something about it,” says Robinson. “There is a lesson in that for us all today: The arc of the moral universe may bend toward justice, but we also have a responsibility to help it.”
Nelson Mandela Centennial
7 p.m. July 18
The Wright, free with general admission