The Civil War in Memory: 1877 to 2013

The Civil War in Memory: 1877 to 2013

How important was the sudden release of Nelson Mandela from jail?

To Mandela himself, it was the event of a lifetime, the culmination of his twenty-seven-year quest to demonstrate the evils of the system of apartheid. To millions of black South Africans, it was a vivid demonstration of the coming end of apartheid. And to hundreds of millions of people around the globe, Mandela’s release seemed to justify some of the fonder feelings that humans have for their own species, something that Lincoln would have called “the better angels of our nature.”

Martin Luther King had been dead for twenty-one years, but many Americans quickly perceived a link between their Civil Rights struggle of the 1960s and the human rights struggle that went on in South Africa. And, though the highbrow news organizations did not comment, the release of the film Glory at almost the same time helped establish a connection.


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