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Black History Boston: Nelson Mandela Visits Boston

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Diversity

Today, we look back to the day the freedom fighter Nelson Mandela visited Boston.

To understand the significance of Nelson Mandela’s journey to Boston, we must examine the significance of his triumph. 

South Africa went through a system called Apartheid, translated to "apartness" in Afrikaans, which was an ideology that was introduced by the government in 1948. Apartheid called for the separate development of the different racial groups that lived in South Africa. The idea was for (separate, but) equal development, but existent disparities made that impossible. It worked to stop all marriage and integration between racial groups. Despite Black people being the majority of the population, this ideology disadvantaged them and gave benefits to their white counterparts. 

To combat the system of Apartheid, anti-apartheid activist and law student Nelson Mandela worked to combat the systems in a variety of ways to fight legislation. In 1962, Nelson was arrested by police along with fellow activist, Cecil Williams. He was on trial for almost two years before being found guilty and sent to life imprisonment to Robben Island. Nelson Mandela stayed imprisoned from 1964 to 1990. From global support for Nelson and economic sanctions placed on South Africa, the government moved to release him and other anti-apartheid activists. 

Upon his release, Nelson Mandela embarked on a tour to visit various locations across the globe that showed support for the anti-apartheid effort. On June 23, 1990, Nelson Mandela arrived in Boston.

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Black History Boston

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