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Penn State Community Pays Tribute to Mandela

by on December 10, 2013 7:10 AM

Nelson Mandela and the lessons of his life were celebrated Monday night during a candlelight vigil outside Old Main.

The vigil was hosted by the Penn State chapter of the NAACP.

The former South African president who was known throughout the world for opposing apartheid and South Africa's policies of racial discrimination. He was jailed for 27 years.

Penn State Assistant Dean for Diversity Enhancement Programs Jamie Campbell spoke at the vigil without a microphone, but loud enough for all to hear, even on a frigid night. He says he spoke as Mandela would have, as a man of the people, standing on the same ground as the crowd, and not upon the steps of Old Main.

"For 27 years he was imprisoned for his dedication to the people," Campbell says of Mandela.

Campbell says people should learn from Mandela's example of not hating your oppressors.

"Mandela never sacrificed his dignity," Campbell says. "Even after having to beg to hold his grandchild, he never said 'I hate you.'"

Campbell urged students to make an effort to be a part of something else bigger than themselves to honor Mandela's legacy.

Mira King, of Penn State's African Student Association, says that the world has acknowledged Mandela's legacy, and that students should take a cue from his leadership.

"At this moment, 90 heads of state are heading to South Africa for what is expected to be the largest gathering of world leaders in Africa," King says. "It is expected the 90,000 seats (at FNB Stadium) will not be big enough to pay tribute." Those world leaders attended a memorial service for Mandela Tuesday morning.

She says people should analyze and learn from the decisions he made. She says that even though their positions may not be as radical as Mandela's, they will affect those around them.

"Mandela was not a superhero," King says. "He was just a man who found his purpose."

Adam Lidgett is a freelance reporter who has covered news and feature stories in State College and Centre County.
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