Classroom Tips: Nelson Mandela Day

“As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest.”

-Nelson Mandela, 2005[1]

100 Years of Greatness

July 18, 2018 will mark Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela’s centenary. His indisputable legacy of challenging the status quo, demonstrating leadership and inspiring social change is globally recognized. During his years as a revolutionary and political prisoner, he maintained a steadfast critique of South Africa’s apartheid regime.  After his release from prison, he became South Africa’s first Black president in 1994.  His decade’s worth of activism was recognized with over 250 awards and honours including the Nobel Peace Prize (1993), Freedom of the City of London (1996) and the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought (1988) [2]

Legacy of Political Struggle

Nelson Mandela was a symbol of struggle and hope for the oppressed.  From black liberation during his early years with the African National Congress to establishing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in post-apartheid South Africa, he spoke out against poverty, racism and inequality.  Even after becoming a statesman and international hero, he remained on the United States’ Terrorist Watchlist until 2008.[3]

Activist, Politician or Peacemaker, where to focus lessons?

The many sides to Nelson Mandela provide great lessons about being an agent of social change. Whether choosing to focus on leadership styles or different political tactics such as non-violent resistance or armed struggle, there are many ways to integrate Nelson Mandela’s biography or speeches into the classroom.

For Elementary students, the follow resources provide biographical information that can be used in English Language Arts and Social Studies.

For Intermediate and High School Students, the multimedia resources can address a range of subject areas within Social Studies and Humanities.

While each discussion will undoubtedly reflect the particular age, location and needs of the particular students, the overarching lesson is sure to be the same: Nelson Mandela is a man who is rightfully celebrated as a true champion of human rights and equity for all.