Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Impossible is Done

Today, leaders from around the world memorialized the great Nelson Mandela.  Twenty-seven years in a jail cell in Robben Island, who would have imagined such an outpouring of love and admiration?  The impossible is done.

Like many who participated in anti-apartheid activities, I wondered if the large corporations who benefited from the regime would ever divest, if social pressure could make a difference.  And then Nelson Mandela left prison, and what seemed impossible is done.

The fear in South Africa at the end of apartheid, as in the American South after slavery, was that those who had been oppressed would retaliate, return hate for hate, violence for the violence.  But instead, people set about trying to right the wrongs of the past rather than repeating them;  they embraced opportunity without denying it to those who had denied it to them. The impossible is done.

I voted in every presidential election since my 18th birthday, including for Rev. Jesse Jackson, but never, never thought I would see a self-identified African American take the office until that night in November 2008 when I felt my ancestors rejoicing right along with me.  The impossible is done.

Today that President spoke of the hope that Mandela gave not just to his nation, but to the world.  As Luckie Daniels noted in a post today on her blog, OurGeorgiaRoots, how extraordinary to live at a time when we see the first Black President of the United States eulogize the first Black President of South Africa.   No longer impossible, it is done.

In his eulogy, President Obama reminds us that it takes the "sacrifices of countless people--known and unknown--to see the dawn of a new day."   I think about the sacrifices of my paternal ancestors who were denied the opportunity to learn to read or write only a couple of generations before I was able to  earn a graduate degree at one of the best universities in the country. The impossible is done.

When people act on behalf of what is right, what is just, what is good, they learn the truth of what Nelson Mandela taught us: "It always seems impossible until it is done."


  1. I sat this morning looking at Nelson Mandela's Memorial Tribute surrounded by images of my Mom, Grandparents and Great Grandparents. It was a profound. Witnessing history & thinking about my accountability to my family/community. A beautiful, reflective day. You're blogging to bless this moment is an example of my accountability & contribution. It's what I [personally] can do to push us forward. Thank you for being much needed encouragement to keep pushing. Keep shining my dear!:)

    1. Thanks, Luckie, for your encouragement and your example.

  2. Wonderful post, you said it very well and to the point. Thank you, it was beautiful.