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Remembering Nelson Mandela

By now, news of the passing of Nelson Mandela has hit every news media outlet around the globe. So much has already been said about this iconic figure who now takes his place along side such people as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King. For years, President Mandela has advocated for equality and liberation in his country and around the world, even if it meant having to sacrifice 27 years of his life to ensure the human rights of others.

Aside from his role as leader, advocate, and humanitarian, Mandela was also a voice for HIV/aids awareness in Africa. In 2005, he announced that his son had died due to complications from Aids. Mandela felt it necessary to announce his son’s death publicly so as to bring this epidemic which continues to claim high numbers in Africa today front and center.

“Let us give publicity to HIV/AIDS and not hide it, because the only way to make it appear like a normal illness like tuberculosis, like cancer, is always to come out and to say somebody has died because of HIV/AIDS. And people will stop regarding it as something extraordinary,ā€ Mandela stated.

In 1997, South Africa approved one of the world’s most liberal constitutions drafted to date. South Africa’s LGBT community celebrated a clause which would make discrimination based on sexual identity illegal. South Africa is the fifth country in the world to legalize same sex marriage, and the first in Africa.

It is fitting that we pay tribute to such a humble man with such passion and dedication to peace and equality all over the world. Equality seems to be a sentiment that is shared in both Blind LGBT Pride International and our parent organization, the American Council of the blind. The core mission statement for both organizations couldn’t be any more clearer. Whether we be blind, sighted, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, or questioning, our resolve should be the same. Let us take his message and apply it to what we do in life. Whether we realize it or not, we have already begun to do this, and we’ve made an impact in our advocacy efforts. Let us draw strength from what Mandela has accomplished, and may it continue to move us forward in making our world a better place as we enter into a new year.

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