Dear Mr. Mandela, Dear Ms. Parks

By Patrice Hendrix

I did my first big story on the Mandela and Parks exhibit which is being hosted at the MSU Museum.  When I learned that the exhibit featured letters addressed to Mandela and the late Parks from children around the world, I automatically wanted to cover it.

Often times we may forget about the challenge of elementary and grade school.  We may have forgotten about those times when our emotions and thoughts were misunderstood or ignored.  As adults, when we think about our rights, our concerns, or any of our day to day issues, we might not be concerned with what a 8 or a 12-year-old might think about those same issues.

This is why I chose to do a story on the exhibit.  I think it’s important to be aware of what goes on in the minds of our youth because they are symbols of our future.

By looking at the lifestyle of Mandela and Parks, children can get a certain understanding of the progress we have made in our societies and in the world in general.  For me, it is about not taking for granted the freedoms that I have today and always being thankful to those who came before me.

A poem and a letter written to Nelson Mandela.

A letter written to the late Rosa Parks.

A letter written to Nelson Mandela.

This exhibit was important for me also because I greatly admire both Rosa Parks and Nelson Mandela.  Since studying the life of Mandela and reading his autobiography, he has especially become a heroic figure in my eyes because in the heart of his struggle he remained true to himself and he continued until he got results.

Choices that he made lead to his being accused of treason in 1964, but even then his determination would not let him quit.  His life was especially a challenge during those times because as he said, he fought against white domination and he fought against black domination.

I remembered being saddened when reading his autobiography.  It was those times that crooked people infiltrated organizations that he helped put together, such as the ANC in South Africa.  There were people that Mandela considered to be friends or ones that he assumed were fighting against the mass domination in the country, but were only there to undermine him.

Mandela’s life story is a very layered and seasoned one of much struggle, but when I listen to his speeches or see his face I see a man of peaceful disposition.  I see a man with the type of genuinely good spirit that the world could use right now.

I salute you Mr. Mandela and I salute you Ms. Parks (R.I.P.).

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