I’m pretty sure innumerable other bloggers have written about this, but one of the greatest men of our age died yesterday. Nelson Mandela was exceptional for many reasons, and while his death was not unexpected it is no less tragic. Through years of dedication, hard work, and courage he managed to defy the odds and down one of the most corrupt and oppressive regimes in recent memory. He did so through peacefull means, and helped create a South Africa where people of all backgrounds could live in peace; not resorting to the collective guilt policie’s like Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe. Though the new South Africa is far from perfect, it is a place that has been getting better over time.
Mr. Mandela is best known for his multiple decades spent in prison on Robben Island. He was a political prisoner, imprisoned for challenging the establishment. However there is another civil rights activist who has incarcerated for over thirty years, right here in America. His name is Leonard Peltier and he was a prominent American Indian Movement (AIM) member until he was arrested and convicted of phony charges of murdering two FBI officers. The charges against him have been thoroughly discredited, yet he remains in prison because the government is too damn proud to admit that they have imprisoned an innocent man for so long. However, there is still hope for Peltier. The more awareness that is spread about his case, the more likely it is that he will be freed. Mandela’s story may have ended, but there is much work left to be done.