PRESORTED STANDARD MAIL U.S. POSTAGE PAID DAYTONA BEACH, FL PERMIT #189
Read us online Like us on Facebookwww.facebook.com/ flcourier
President Obama: ‘You can make his life’s work your own’
Follow us on Twitter@flcourier
DECEMBER 13 - DECEMBER 19, 2013
VOLUME 21 NO. 50
NELSON ROLIHLAHLA MANDELA 1918-2013
‘A GREAT SOUL’ The world pauses this week to pay tribute and reflect on the extraordinary life of South Africa’s first Black president
INSIDE Nelson Mandela: Architect of peace / B1 Examining the global state of human rights / A3 Mixed feelings about Mandela’s impact / A3 Robben Island: The place that changed Madiba / A6 Elba drew strength from his dad to portray Mandela / B5
Remembering the man and his mission Some of Florida’s legislators reflect on the passing of Nelson Mandela FROM STAFF REPORTS
ANACIETO RAPPING/LOS ANGELES TIMES/MCT
South African President Nelson Mandela makes his way to Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, in this May 9, 1994 photo. Mandela died on Dec. 5. BY ROBYN DIXON LOS ANGELES TIMES/MCT
U.S Rep. Corrine Brown: I am happy to know that a man who championed peaceful resistance left us to accomplish true peace. While the world, including myself, will mourn the lack of his mere presence on the earth, Mandela’s legacy is never to be forgotten. As a man who fathered a nation through resilience, patience, and unwavering strength, Mandela taught the world how to achieve unity and strive towards equality with patience and a forgiving heart. U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings: Truly, the name Nelson Mandela has become synonymous with peace, justice, and the most steadfast perseverance. The outpouring of support across the globe for President Mandela is a testament to his integrity and fortitude. I have no doubt that his name will live on for generations to come. U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson: “The world will probably never again see a man of Nelson Mandela’s courage and conviction. He was truly a remarkable and inspirational human See REFLECT, Page A2
A poster of Nelson Mandela is seen in the crowd during a memorial service on Dec. 10 for the South African anti-apartheid leader and former president at the FND Stadium in Soweto, South Africa.
Obama urged people to draw inspiration from Mandela, who struggled for change even when it seemed impossible, comforting himself that he was captain of his own soul. “What a great soul it was. We will miss him deeply,” he said. “May God bless the memory of Nelson Mandela.” Clouds hung low over the soccer stadium in Soweto township, but the atmosphere was full of joy, as many in attendance sang old liberation struggle songs extolling Mandela, who died Nov. 5 at 95.
OHANNESBURG — In misty rains that African leaders said symbolized the departure of a great leader, mourners shed tears and wept at South Africa’s state memorial for Nelson Mandela, but also sang songs, danced and ululated to celebrate the man President Barack Obama eulogized as a giant of history. Leaders and dignitaries from more than 100 countries attended the service, where Long walk is over Obama invoked Mandela’s spirit in imIn South African culture, rain is seen as passioned remarks that urged young Africans and world leaders alike to “search a blessing symbolizing major events. Depthen for his strength, for his largeness of uty President Cyril Ramaphosa, opening See MANDELA, Page A2 spirit, somewhere inside ourselves.”
GRAEME WILLIAMS/ ACTION PRESS/ZUMA PRESS/MCT
Florida NAACP calls for probe into alleged Miami Gardens police abuse FROM STAFF REPORTS
The Florida State Conference of NAACP Branches and its Miami-Dade County Branch asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday to direct the Justice Department to review an alleged “systemic pattern and practice of intimidation’’ by officers of the Miami Gardens Police Department against African-American residents in the South Florida city. Officers on the Miami Gardens police force have been accused of abusing their authority under a “zero tolerance” initiative.
and practice” of intimidation by the Miami Gardens police force, which numbers about 200 sworn officers in a city of more than 110,000 people. NAACP officials said Tuesday the allegations include Earl Sampson who has been arrested 62 times for trespassing and stopped and questioned by Miami Gardens police 258 times in four years and searched more than 100 times. But Sampson isn’t trespassing. Too many arrests He is at work. The letter to Holder, dated Patrons of the 207 Quickstop, a Tuesday, asks for an investigation convenience store in Miami Garinto whether there is a “pattern dens, say they have had the same “The police have made hundreds of apprehensions of innocent employees and customers of convenience stores for ‘trespassing.’ This supposed ‘zero tolerance’ initiative by the department has left the Miami Gardens community shaken and uncertain of whether the police are willing to protect them from actual criminals,” the Florida NAACP said in a statement released Tuesday.
experience happen to them. Almost every citation issued to Sampson, a clerk at 207 Quickstop, was at his place of employment. Following all the arrests, he has not been convicted of anything more serious than possession of marijuana. “The Miami Gardens Police Department must be prevented from implementing their Zero Tolerance Zone Initiative. We are requesting that the U.S. Department of Justice intervene immediately to protect the rights of the residents of Miami Gardens,” stated Adora Obi Nweze, president of the NAACP Florida State
Conference and the Miami-Dade branch.
Videos scrutinized Public records contain 27 video recordings from Adora Obi one store owner, Nweze Alex Saleh, who also filed a complaint with the police internal affairs commander, Gary Smith. These recordings show police regularly questioning, frisking and
COMMENTARY: LEONARD PITTS: FORGIVENESS AT THE HEART OF MANDELA’S LEGACY | A5 FOOD: HOW TO HOST A HOLIDAY GATHERING WITH SIMPLE TREATS | B6
See PROBE, Page A2
DECEMBER 13 – DECEMBER 19, 2013
Lest we forget, Madiba was a principled warrior The world has lost another point on its compass of morality. The dominant narrative is of a docile and passive man. A man who, according to President Obama’s remarks, “we draw strength from the example of renewal and reconciliation and resilience that you (Mandela) made real.” What is missing from this narrative is the reality of the warrior, the revolutionary. The African National Congress (ANC) took up arms against the South African Government in 1961. According to the ANC, “The massacre of peaceful protestors and the subsequent banning of the ANC made it clear that peaceful protest alone would not force the regime to change. The ANC went underground and continued to organize secretly. Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) was formed to “hit back by all means within our power in defence of our people, our future and our freedom. In 18 months MK carried out 200 acts of sabotage.”
Struggle for liberty Nelson Mandela was involved in the armed struggle to free his people, his country from the grip of White supremacist rule. That is why he faced the death by hanging and was sentenced to life in prison. It’s imperative that as we honor Madiba we don’t
DR. WILMER J. LEON III TRICEEDNEYWIRE.COM
lose sight of the fact that his struggle, the ANC’s struggle, the struggle for liberty and human rights in South Africa and for people of color all over the world has and continues to take place within the larger context of the global system of White supremacy. That’s why for example when you read President Obama’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech, he said that he was mindful of what Martin Luther King said in this same ceremony years ago - “Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones…I know there is nothing weak, nothing passive, nothing naïve in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King. But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone.”
True revolutionary He was speaking as the president of the most powerful military imperial hegemon in the world. The not-so- subtle undertone of that passage is that even as the first African-American
president he was swearing to use all of the military force he commands in order to defend and protect “U.S. interests” any place he deems necessary. Notice also, that during that speech, Mr. Mandela’s name was only mentioned once, almost in passing. “Compared to some of the giants of history who have received this prize Schweitzer and King; Marshall and Mandela - my accomplishments are slight.” Why? Because Nelson Mandela was a true revolutionary, a freedom fighter and president Obama could never align himself with that part of Mr. Mandela’s reality. It’s a great thing that Nelson Mandela became the first Black African democratically elected president of South Africa. This must also be put into context. He was not a perfect president. Many will argue that he cut a bad deal. That is not for me to judge.
Beyond his control Before he was elected president there were approximately 4 million socially, economically, and politically disenfranchised Black South Africans. During his presidency there were millions of socially, economically, and politically disenfranchised Black South Africans, as there are still today. I do recognize that this is partially due to the fact that
even as the democratically elected president of South Africa he did not control the natural resources of his country; he did not control the military, and did not control the factors that impacted its economy. That’s the reality of being the first Black president within the greater context of a White supremacist power structure.
Apologies warranted As President Obama expresses America’s condolences to the Mandela family and the people of South Africa, he should also apologize to them for the CIA’s involvement in the initial arrest of Mr. Mandela. He should apologize to them for President Reagan’s policy of Constructive Engagement. Reagan’s vetoing legislation and blocking attempts by the United Nations to impose sanctions and to isolate South Africa. Madiba was a principled warrior. During the June 21, 1990 Town Hall Meeting in Harlem – Ken Adelman from the Institute of Contemporary Studies asked Mr. Mandela about his relationships with Yasser Arafat, Muammar Gaddafi, and Fidel Castro and tried to get him to renounce his association with them. Mandela responded, “One of the mistakes many political analysts made is to think that their en-
MANDELA from A1 the memorial, said that “if it rains when you are buried, it means the gods are welcoming you and the gates of heaven are opening.” “In many ways we are here to tell Madiba that his long walk is over, that he can finally rest. His long walk is over but ours is only beginning,” Ramaphosa said, referring to Mandela by his clan name. Tuesday’s service began with rousing cheers and the words “Comrades! Long live the spirit of Nelson Mandela! Long live!” The Mandela family, which has been deeply divided in recent months, looked ashen and strained as they arrived and took their places. Mandela’s widow, Graca Machel, regarded as the peacemaker in the family, embraced his second wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. When President Jacob Zuma entered the stadium, he drew a hearty cheer from members of the ruling African National Congress, but then, little by little, some in the crowd began booing. The boos died down when Zuma addressed the gathering.
Brutal apartheid system Mandela, the leader of the movement to end South Africa’s brutal apartheid system of racial discrimination and the nation’s first Black president, died Dec. 5 after having contracted severe pneumonia in June, from which he never fully recovered. South African media reported that he came down with a new infection shortly before he died. The former president,
REFLECT from A1 being to have endured 27 years as a political prisoner and to respond with forgiveness and reconciliation. President Mandela inspired a movement for freedom and equality that not only transformed South Africa but also humanity. Nelson Mandela was a man of steel and a symbol of peace. He was a gift from God to this world. State House Minor-
JERRY HOLT/MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE/MCT
Nelson Mandela dances with Coretta Scott King, right, after he was elected president in Johannesburg, South Africa, in a 1994 file image. who in the 1960s was sentenced to prison on charges of sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government, had battled recurrent lung infections since becoming ill during his 27 years of incarceration, which ended in 1990. South Africans revere him for the sacrifice of spending nearly three decades in prison and for his triumph in negotiating a peaceful end to apartheid. But to many in the South African ruling party, the tough, uncompromising younger Mandela, who advocated violent struggle to answer the violence of apartheid, is just as important. “The world is here,” a South African newspaper headline read as leaders jetted in Tuesday from around the globe, a logisity Leader Perry Thurston: As a peaceful champion for the causes of equality, fairness, freedom and justice, time and again Nelson Mandela showed the world the power of moral courage. It is with the deepest gratitude that I offer sympathies to the Mandela family, the people of South Africa, and all who have been affected by his life’s work. State Sen. Arthenia Joyner: I was one of the demonstrators in front of the South African Embassy in Washington, D.C. ar-
tical, diplomatic and security nightmare that saw Obama caught in morning traffic, arriving after the memorial had begun, and complaints that members of the public underwent no security screening as they entered a stadium in which some of the world’s most powerful people were seated.
lenge chronic poverty and growing inequality. There are too many leaders who claim solidarity with Madiba’s struggle for freedom but do not tolerate dissent from their own people.” The crowd repeatedly burst into cheers during Obama’s impassioned eulogy, at times almost drowning him out.
Cheers for Obama
‘Not a saint’
With some of the world’s autocrats listening, Obama said that too many leaders claimed solidarity with South Africa’s liberation struggle while falling short of the democratic values Mandela espoused. “There are too many of us who happily embrace Madiba’s legacy of racial reconciliation but passionately resist even modest reforms that would chal-
Obama compared Mandela, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, to Abraham Lincoln, Mohandas K. Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. and to America’s Founding Fathers. In a week of obituaries that often endowed Mandela — who was president from 1994 to 1999 — with a saintly, iconic status, Obama rejected the view of him as “smiling and serene,
rested for demanding his freedom and the end to apartheid in that country. And when those demonstrations helped lead to his release from decades of imprisonment and the dismantling of segregation, I celebrated along with millions of others reveling in South Africa’s first taste of real freedom. State Sen. Chris Smith: To say that Nelson Mandela was an inspiration to people throughout the world is an understatement. I traveled to his birthplace, and to his pris-
on cell. I reached out to touch the cold bars that held him, and I could look for just a brief time at the limestone rock quarry he worked at for more than a quarter century before finally returning to freedom. That servitude at the rock quarry cost him a great deal of his eyesight, but it never blinded him to his mission. He is and will always be a testament to the determination of the human spirit no man could break, and the yearning for freedom no imprisonment could conquer.
emies should be our enemies. That we can’t and will never do. We are an independent organization engaged in our own struggle. Our attitude towards any country is determined by that country’s attitude toward our struggle…Yasser Arafat, Col. Gaddafi, and Fidel Castro support our struggle to the hilt. Not only with rhetoric but by placing resources at our disposal for us to win our struggle.”
Not bullied It’s interesting to note that in 1960 when Fidel Castro came to America he went to Harlem. Months after Madiba was released from prison he came to America and visited Harlem as well. During the same meeting, Mandela also said to Henry Siegman from The American Jewish Congress “We identify with the PLO because just like ourselves they are fighting for the right of self-determination.” Mandela demonstrated in those exchanges that he was not going to be bullied by outside interests and take positions that were not based on principle and contrary to the stated mission of the ANC. Many individuals in positions of “leadership” within the African-American community would be well served to follow President Mandela’s example. There’s a lot detached from the tawdry affairs of lesser men.” “Madiba himself strongly resisted such a lifeless portrait,” Obama said. “Instead, he insisted on sharing with us his doubts and fears, his miscalculations along with his victories. ‘I’m not a saint,’ he said, ‘unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.’ “It was precisely because he could admit to imperfection — because he could be so full of good humor, even mischief, despite the heavy burdens he carried — that we loved him so. He was not a bust made of marble; he was a man of flesh and blood — a son and husband, a father and a friend.” Also at the memorial were former U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. In a gesture some took as a symbolic nod to Mandela’s spirit of reconciliation, Obama, while greeting world leaders, shook hands with Cuban President Raul Castro, although the countries have not had diplomatic relations for more than five decades.
Moved to tears Draped in a South African flag and carried by eight warrant officers representing the armed forces, Nelson Mandela’s coffin was taken up the steps of the Union Buildings on Wednesday to lie in state. Thin crowds lined the road as the coffin passed on its journey to the seat of government. The way was led by a phalanx of motorcycle police with their headlights on, many of them moved to tears, underscoring the somber reality of Mandela’s death. The mood was a departure from the joyful celebrations of recent days, which have marked the anti-apartheid hero’s contri-
PROBE from A1 arresting people who not only have permission to be on the property, but also have not committed any crimes. This video archive documents what may be the most pervasive, most invasive, and most unjustified pattern of police harassment in the nation. Absent federal oversight and intervention, the NAACP has no confidence that the Miami Gardens
to said for and gained by sticking to principle. Facing death by hanging at his 1964 trial for treason in Pretoria, South Africa, Mandela said, “During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people…I have fought against White domination, and I have fought against Black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve… But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” I submit that contrary to President Obama’s observations, most people who truly understand the arc of Madiba’s life really draw strength from the example of renewal and reconciliation and resilience that Madiba made real as a principled warrior and uncompromising guerilla fighter. The revolutionary who was willing to die for the freedom of his people.
Dr. Wilmer Leon is the producer and host of the Sirisu/XM Satellite radio channel 110 call-in talk radio program “Inside the Issues with Wilmer Leon. Visit www.wilmerleon.com for more information. Write your own response at www.flcourier.com. butions as a freedom fighter and peacemaker.
Important symbol Mandela’s grandson, Mandla, the clan’s tribal chief, looked stricken as the coffin arrived at the Union Buildings — an important symbol in South Africa as the former seat of apartheid power and later the site of Mandela’s inauguration as the first democratically elected president 19 years ago. The buildings are the current seat of the presidency. Mandla Mandela followed the coffin as it was borne up into complex’s stone amphitheater, which Zuma on Wednesday formally named the Nelson Mandela Amphitheater. Zuma filed in to see the body first, followed by Mandela’s widow, Graca Machel, and former wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, wearing black turbans. They were followed by dozens of other family members, including one elderly relative draped in a South African flag.
Paying last respect South African and world leaders then filed past, paused and bowed in front of the coffin in homage to Mandela’s achievement in negotiating a peaceful end to apartheid and ushering in a peaceful stable democracy. Former South African President Thabo Mbeki, who was Mandela’s deputy and succeeded him, paid tribute as well. F.W. de Klerk, the man with whom Mandela negotiated the transition from White-minority rule and who shared the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize with him, showed visible emotion as he passed, blinking his eyes. They received the award 20 years ago, almost to the day, on Dec. 10, 1993. Police Department or other city officials will willingly conduct a complete and impartial investigation. The Florida NAACP has called on Holder to deploy Justice Department staff to Miami Gardens immediately to “determine if federal laws have been violated, prosecute those responsible, and ensure that new procedures are implemented to prevent recurrences.’’
Curt Anderson of the Associated Press contributed to this report.
DECEMBER 13 – DECEMBER 19, 2013
NELSON MANDELA 1918-2013
Examining the global state of human rights Nelson Mandela inspired civil rights champions across Africa and world BY CAROL J. WILLIAMS LOS ANGELES TIMES/MCT
The death of revered South African freedom fighter Nelson Mandela has spurred reflection on the global state of human rights in the years since his transformation from political prisoner to president and elder statesman. Those striving to build on Mandela’s vision of equality and mutual respect see a world that is profoundly more free, fair and accountable than the one that existed when he walked out of prison in 1990 to wage the final battle in the war on apartheid. Human rights horror stories persist in many places around the world, most disturbingly in Syria, where nearly three years of civil war have left more than 100,000 dead and devastated the home life and livelihoods of millions. Even countries like Myanmar, where military dictatorship has given way in the past few years to pluralism and social reform, the progress has been uneven, rights advocates say.
Impact of technology But Mandela’s inspiring leadership of South Africa from institutionalized racism to one of the continent’s most prosperous and established democracies has coincided with the end of authoritarian rule in Eastern Europe, worldwide growth in the number and clout of human rights groups and dramatic technological advances that prevent despots from doing their worst without the outside world’s notice. “There are 500,000 videos on YouTube from the Syrian conflict. We now find out in minutes what is going on in different parts of the world,” said Iain Levine, deputy executive program director for Human Rights Watch. He pointed out that as he spoke, a colleague was live-blogging from Central African Republic, where United Nations peacekeepers have been deployed to quell Muslim-Christian fighting in the impoverished and restive state.
Pressure on perpetrators With cell phones in the hands of people in even the poorest countries, images of abuses are instantly flashed around the world via Twitter, Facebook, text messages and shared photos, Levine said. The availability of documented evidence accelerates the international community’s ability to bring pressure on perpetrators or
DAVID TURNLEY/DETROIT FREE PRESS/MCT
Newly inaugurated President Nelson Mandela toasts with U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali during his inauguration lunch on May 10, 1994 in Pretoria, South Africa. Mandela was sworn in before prominent dignitaries from all over the world as well as thousands of onlookers. get global bodies, like the United Nations, deployed to prevent or at least identify abuses, he said. Success in defeating injustice also has an infectious quality that puts dictators on notice that their power to repress may not be endless, Levine said. He pointed to the Arab Spring uprisings that deposed longtime leaders in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen as having inspired nascent opposition movements even seemingly unreformable nations like Zimbabwe.
Improvements, setbacks Angola, Somalia and Sudan remain largely impervious to the encroachment of democratic values and respect for human rights, analysts say. But the rise of South Africa and other nations from racism, colonial repression, civil war and dictatorship has helped foster what are seen as moves in the right direction. In the annual Corruption Perceptions Index for this year, prepared by Berlin’s Transparency International, African states still mostly brought up the rear of the 177 countries ranked. But notable exceptions like Botswana, Cape Verde, Mauritius, Rwanda, Lesotho and Mozambique have been making steady progress
in cleaning up government and law enforcement, the 2013 index shows. Nevertheless, setbacks bedevil even the most meager improvements. Just last month, word emerged from Afghan legal circles, where a new penal code is being drafted, that some Islamic fundamentalists want to see stoning and flogging brought back as punishment of moral offenses. “Stoning and amputation are always torture, and so is flogging as practiced in Afghanistan,” warned Horia Mosadiq, Afghanistan researcher at Amnesty International. “All these forms of punishment are strictly prohibited under international human rights treaties, which are binding on Afghanistan.”
Worldwide abuses listed Amnesty also posted a list this month of cases of concern for the state of human rights in 12 countries, including Nigeria and Ethiopia, for jailing dissidents and forcibly evicting more than a million people over the past five years. The report also cited abuses in Belarus, Russia and Turkey in Europe; in Bahrain, Tunisia and Israeli-occupied Palestinian terri-
tory in the Middle East; in Myanmar and Cambodia in Asia; and Mexico and Honduras in Latin America. Myanmar, also known as Burma from its colonial era, has witnessed notable advances in respect for human rights over the past three years with the rise to power of President Sein Thein and his ending of house arrest for opposition leader and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. Since Sein distanced himself from the military dictatorship in March 2011, opposition activists have won seats in parliament, and political and economic reforms have widened. The country is still taken to task by rights advocates, however, for continuing to jail political prisoners and for mistreatment of ethnic and religious minorities, in particular the stateless Rohingya Muslims.
Unrealized expectations U.S. rights groups have credited Mandela with having “inspired us to be our best selves” in working toward economic equality and fighting injustice. “Although it seems unthinkable to imagine a world without Nelson Mandela, we must,” said Anthony D. Romero, executive
director of the American Civil Liberties Union. “Our dedication to protecting freedoms for everyone – no matter what their race, gender, religion or whom they choose to love — is the precious legacy he has passed on to us.” Much work remains to be done, as State University of New York, Albany history professor Ryan Irwin observes in his essay on “Mandela’s Unfinished Business,” published Dec. 6 on Foreign Affairs magazine’s website. Although Mandela’s vision of a free and democratic South Africa inspired civil rights champions across Africa and the world, it also raised expectations in a country that for all of its successes “remains plagued by pervasive income inequality, structural unemployment and widespread poverty.” Those unrealized expectations are being presented by Mandela’s political allies as marching orders left by their departed general. “The large African baobab, who loved Africa as much as he loved South Africa, has fallen,” the ruling African National Congress said in a statement after Mandela’s death, comparing him to the continent’s sturdy tree of life. “Its trunk and seeds will nourish the earth for decades to come.”
Whites struggling in South African mining town have mixed feelings about Mandela’s impact BY ROBYN DIXON LOS ANGELES TIMES/MCT
FOCHVILLE, South Africa — In Fochville, a mainly Afrikaner mining town about 30 miles southwest of Johannesburg, not everyone wants to talk about the legacy of Nelson Mandela. “No thank you,” said one White man, his face hardening at the mention of the name before he turned and walked off. Another middle-aged White man stalked away swiftly: “I’m unemployed right now. He’s done nothing for me. I’ve got a negative point of view.” A white-haired Afrikaner man glared and said that two minutes was too long for an interview on Mandela. In the days since Mandela died, alarmist messages have been circulating on Facebook in the Afrikaans language, according to locals, reviving old warnings that Black South Africans would butcher Whites when the former president’s life ended.
Black empowerment blamed The fear, associated with extremist right-wing White groups, is based on the theory that Mandela was the only figure of restraint in the ruling African National Congress. It’s not taken seriously by analysts and most
Whites, since Mandela had had little or no political influence for many years, but it crops up regularly in certain circles. Belinda Van Rhyn, 45, a receptionist at a security company, said Facebook messages in Afrikaans warning of race war had been making the rounds again. “I think that’s nonsense,” she said. “You always get negative people. Most of them are positive.” But life in Fochville, where 71 percent of residents are White Afrikaans-speakers and many depend on gold mines and agriculture for a living, has been hit hard by a gradual decline in mining. Young White men, almost guaranteed a job under apartheid, feel as though they are last in line, and many blame Black economic empowerment. “There’s a lot of unemployed (White) people. They’re retrenched. They suffer a lot,” said Thys Redelinghuys, 66, a retired mining industry engine driver.
Some negative, indifferent The main street in Fochville has a slightly worn look, though the roads are kept meticulously clean by Black municipal workers. On the outskirts of town, a swath of tin shacks where many of the town’s Black population lives huddles under a gloomy af-
FRANCINE ORR/LOSA ANGELES TIMES/MCT
Nelson Mandela speaks to a cheering crowd at an African National Congress rally on April 4, 2004, in Soweto, South Africa. Some Whites living in the mining town of Fochville are more pessimistic about Mandela and the ANC. ternoon rainstorm. There’s a kind of informal, chosen segregation, with some cheap, shabby cafes in the town center occupied solely by Blacks and other businesses patronized mainly by Whites. Most Whites in Fochville were saddened by the loss of Mandela and saw him as a great man, Redelinghuys said, adding that perhaps 10 percent were negative or indifferent to his death. “They say they don’t care if he dies or whatever. They don’t change. You can’t change them,” he said, adding that many of them were older people with fixed ideas.
Criticism of ANC In the days of apartheid, said Redelinghuys, “they worked on your brain. That’s something that people make you believe in. “In those days, you couldn’t say what you wanted to say. You’d (only) speak about it to your friends and say, ‘This is not right,’ “ he said. Walter Ericson, 25, said of Mandela: “Politically he’s a hero, but there’s stuff he did that was wrong. He was also a terrorist.” Though Mandela is quite popular among most Whites, according to Redelinghuys, the ruling scandal-ridden African National Congress party is not.
“The ANC promised some things but they didn’t deliver, but you can’t blame Mandela for that,” said Van Rhyn, the receptionist. However, the global obsession with Mandela overstates his achievements, she said. “He was only a person.” Mandela changed everything when he came out of jail, said Redelinghuys, because of his reconciliation policy. “Whites have changed a lot, thanks to God and Madiba,” he said, using Mandela’s tribal name. “When he came out, he actually made all of us free.”
NELSON MANDELA 1918-2013
DECEMBER 13 – DECEMBER 19, 2013
“I’ve cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and [with] equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” – Nelson Mandela
‘You can make his life’s work your own’ We must act
Here is the full text of President Obama’s remarks during the memorial service for Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, South Africa. To Graça Machel and the Mandela family; to President Zuma and members of the government; to heads of states and government, past and present; distinguished guests; it is a singular honor to be with you today, to celebrate a life like no other. To the people of South Africa – people of every race and walk of life – the world thanks you for sharing Nelson Mandela with us. His struggle was your struggle. His triumph was your triumph. Your dignity and your hope found expression in his life. And your freedom, your democracy is his cherished legacy.
Hard to do It is hard to eulogize any man – to capture in words not just the facts and the dates that make a life, but the essential truth of a person – their private joys and sorrows; the quiet moments and unique qualities that illuminate someone’s soul. How much harder to do so for a giant of history, who moved a nation toward justice, and in the process moved billions around the world. Born during World War I, far from the corridors of power, a boy raised herding cattle and tutored by the elders of his Thembu tribe, Madiba would emerge as the last great liberator of the 20th century. Like Gandhi, he would lead a resistance movement – a movement that at its start had little prospect for success. Like Dr. King, he would give potent voice to the claims of the oppressed and the moral necessity of racial justice. He would endure a brutal imprisonment that began in the time of Kennedy and Khrushchev, and reached the final days of the Cold War. Emerging from prison, without the force of arms, he would – like Abraham Lincoln – hold his country together when it threatened to break apart. And like America’s Founding Fathers, he would erect a constitutional order to preserve freedom for future generations – a commitment to democracy and rule of law ratified not only by his election, but by his willingness to step down from power after only one term.
Not a saint Given the sweep of his life, the scope of his accomplishments, the adoration that he so rightly earned, it’s tempting I think to remember Nelson Mandela as an icon, smiling and serene, detached from the tawdry affairs of lesser men. But Madiba himself strongly resisted such a lifeless portrait. Instead, Madiba insisted on sharing with us his doubts and his fears; his miscalculations along with his victories. “I am not a saint,” he said, “unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.” It was precisely because he could admit to imperfection – because he could be so full of good humor, even mischief, despite the heavy burdens he carried – that we loved him so. He was not a bust made of marble; he was a man of flesh and blood – a son and a husband, a father and a friend. And that’s why we learned so much from him, and that’s why we can learn from him still. For nothing he achieved was inevitable. In the arc of his life, we see a man who earned his place in history through struggle and shrewdness, and persistence and faith. He tells us what is possible not just in the pages of history books, but in our own lives as well.
Mandela showed us the power of action; of taking risks on behalf of our ideals. Perhaps Madiba was right that he inherited, “a proud rebelliousness, a stubborn sense of fairness” from his father. And we know he shared with millions of Black and colored South Africans the anger born of, “a thousand slights, a thousand indignities, a thousand unremembered moments…a desire to fight the system that imprisoned my people,” he said. But like other early giants of the ANC – the Sisulus and Tambos – Madiba disciplined his anger and channeled his desire to fight into organization, and platforms, and strategies for action, so men and women could stand up for their God-given dignity. Moreover, he accepted the consequences of his actions, knowing that standing up to powerful interests and injustice carries a price. “I have fought against White domination and I have fought against Black domination. I’ve cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and [with] equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
A teacher Mandela taught us the power of action, but he also taught us the power of ideas; the importance of reason and arguments; the need to study not only those who you agree with, but also those who you don’t agree with. He understood that ideas cannot be contained by prison walls, or extinguished by a sniper’s bullet. He turned his trial into an indictment of apartheid because of his eloquence and his passion, but also because of his training as an advocate. He used decades in prison to sharpen his arguments, but also to
spread his thirst for knowledge to others in the movement. And he learned the language and the customs of his oppressor so that one day he might better convey to them how their own freedom depend upon his. Mandela demonstrated that action and ideas are not enough. No matter how right, they must be chiseled into law and institutions. He was practical, testing his beliefs against the hard surface of circumstance and history. On core principles he was unyielding, which is why he could rebuff offers of unconditional release, reminding the Apartheid regime that “prisoners cannot enter into contracts.” But as he showed in painstaking negotiations to transfer power and draft new laws, he was not afraid to compromise for the sake of a larger goal. And because he was not only a leader of a movement but a skillful politician, the Constitution that emerged was worthy of this multiracial democracy, true to his vision of laws that protect minority as well as majority rights, and the precious freedoms of every South African.
ily’s heartbreak into a call to confront HIV/AIDS – that revealed the depth of his empathy and his understanding. He not only embodied Ubuntu, he taught millions to find that truth within themselves. It took a man like Madiba to free not just the prisoner, but the jailer as well – to show that you must trust others so that they may trust you; to teach that reconciliation is not a matter of ignoring a cruel past, but a means of confronting it with inclusion and generosity and truth. He changed laws, but he also changed hearts.
Inspired the world For the people of South Africa, for those he inspired around the globe, Madiba’s passing is rightly a time of mourning, and a time to celebrate a heroic life. But I believe it should also prompt in each of us a time for self-reflection. With honesty, regardless of our station or our circumstance, we must ask: How well have I applied his lessons in my own life? It’s a question I ask myself, as a man and as a President.
We know that, like South Africa, the United States had to overcome centuries of racial subjugation. As was true here, it took sacrifice – the sacrifice of countless people, known and unknown, to see the dawn of a new day. Michelle and I are beneficiaries of that struggle. But in America, and in South Africa, and in countries all around the globe, we cannot allow our progress to cloud the fact that our work is not yet done. The struggles that follow the victory of formal equality or universal franchise may not be as filled with drama and moral clarity as those that came before, but they are no less important. For around the world today, we still see children suffering from hunger and disease. We still see rundown schools. We still see young people without prospects for the future. Around the world today, men and women are still imprisoned for their political beliefs, and are still persecuted for what they look like, and how they worship, and who they love. That is happening today.
And so we, too, must act on behalf of justice. We, too, must act on behalf of peace. There are too many people who happily embrace Madiba’s legacy of racial reconciliation, but passionately resist even modest reforms that would challenge chronic poverty and growing inequality. There are too many leaders who claim solidarity with Madiba’s struggle for freedom, but do not tolerate dissent from their own people. And there are too many of us on the sidelines, comfortable in complacency or cynicism when our voices must be heard. The questions we face today – how to promote equality and justice; how to uphold freedom and human rights; how to end conflict and sectarian war – these things do not have easy answers. But there were no easy answers in front of that child born in World War I. Nelson Mandela reminds us that it always seems impossible until it is done. South Africa shows that is true. South Africa shows we can change, that we can choose a world defined not by our differences, but by our common hopes. We can choose a world defined not by conflict, but by peace and justice and opportunity. We will never see the likes of Nelson Mandela again. But let me say to the young people of Africa and the young people around the world – you, too, can make his life’s work your own. Over 30 years ago, while still a student, I learned of Nelson Mandela and the struggles taking place in this beautiful land, and it stirred something in me. It woke me up to my responsibilities to others and to myself, and it set me on an improbable journey that finds me here today. And while I will always fall short of Madiba’s example, he makes me want to be a better man. He speaks to what’s best inside us.
Let us search After this great liberator is laid to rest, and when we have returned to our cities and villages and rejoined our daily routines, let us search for his strength. Let us search for his largeness of spirit somewhere inside of ourselves. And when the night grows dark, when injustice weighs heavy on our hearts, when our best-laid plans seem beyond our reach, let us think of Madiba and the words that brought him comfort within the four walls of his cell: “It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” What a magnificent soul it was. We will miss him deeply. May God bless the memory of Nelson Mandela. May God bless the people of South Africa.
Ties that bind And finally, Mandela understood the ties that bind the human spirit. There is a word in South Africa – “Ubuntu” – a word that captures Mandela’s greatest gift: his recognition that we are all bound together in ways that are invisible to the eye; that there is a oneness to humanity; that we achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others, and caring for those around us. We can never know how much of this sense was innate in him, or how much was shaped in a dark and solitary cell. But we remember the gestures, large and small – introducing his jailers as honored guests at his inauguration; taking a pitch in a Springbok uniform; turning his fam-
W W W.FLCOURIER.COM Central Florida Communicators Group, LLC, P.O. Box 48857 Tampa, FL 33646, publishes the Florida Courier on Fridays. Phone: 877-3524455, toll-free. For all sales inquiries, call 877352-4455; e-mail email@example.com. Subscriptions to the print version are $59 per year. Mail check to P.O. Box 48857 Tampa, FL 33646, or log on to www.flcourier.com; click on ‘Subscribe’.
SUBMISSIONS POLICY SEND ALL SUBMISSIONS TO NEWS@FLCOURIER.COM. Deadline for submitting news and pictures is 5 p.m. the Monday before the Friday publication date. You may submit articles at any time. However, current events received prior to deadline will be considered before any information that is submitted, without the Publisher’s prior approval, after the deadline. Press releases, letters to the editor, and guest commentaries must be e-mailed to be considered for publication. The Florida Courier reserves the right to edit any submission, and crop any photograph, for style and clarity. Materials will not be returned.
Charles W. Cherry, Sr. (1928-2004), Founder Julia T. Cherry, Senior Managing Member, Central Florida Communicators Group, LLC Dr. Glenn W. Cherry, Cassandra CherryKittles, Charles W. Cherry II, Managing Members Dr. Glenn W. Cherry, Chief Executive Officer Charles W. Cherry II, Esq., Publisher Dr. Valerie Rawls-Cherry, Human Resources Jenise Morgan, Senior Editor Linda Fructuoso, Marketing Consultant/Sales, Circulation Angela van Emmerik, Creative Director Chicago Jones, Eugene Leach, Louis Muhammad, Lisa Rogers-Cherry, Circulation Andreas Butler, Ashley Thomas, Staff Writers Delroy Cole, Kim Gibson, Photojournalists MEMBER National Newspaper Publishers Association Society of Professional Journalists Florida Press Association Associated Press National Newspaper Association
DECEMBER 13 – DECEMBER 19, 2013
NELSON MANDELA 1918-2013
Forgiveness at heart of Mandela legacy Every once in a very great while, we get these people who rise above the confines of self. Nelson Mandela, who died on Thursday at the age of 95, was one of those. He navigated his life by the polestar not of self, but of freedom and in so doing, became the founding father of a new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal, It is not that he was a perfect man. “In real life,” he once wrote, “we deal, not with gods, but with ordinary humans like ourselves: men and women who are full of contradictions, who are stable and fickle, strong and weak, famous and infamous.” But if Mandela was heir to all those imperfections of humanity — and of course, he was — he was also able, when his country and the world needed him to — to make himself greater than the sum of his flaws.
Imagine a different Mandela If you doubt that, imagine for a moment a different scenario. Imagine a Nelson Mandela who came out of prison after 27 years — much if it spent at hard labor and in isolation upon an inhospitable rock called Robben Island — and seethed with fury. Imagine a Mandela who sought revenge against a white minority govern-
Visual Viewpoint: Nelson Mandela
ing shape. And then there was the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
LEONARD PITTS JR.
ment that branded him a terrorist and stole so much of his life for the “crime” of wanting, and fighting, to be free. Imagine a Mandela who used the force of his legend and his moral authority to do what that government had long feared he would: issue a war cry, set black against white. The waters of the South Atlantic Ocean might still be running red. Now, consider what actually did happen: Mandela forgave. He forgave the government that segregated him to the margins of society and made him an outsider in his own country. He forgave the jailers who tried to break his body and spirit during his long incarceration. He forgave his country for hating him. Not only that: when he completed his remarkable rise from South African “terrorist” under the apartheid regime to South African president in a new multiracial democracy, he made it a point to reach out and reassure nervous whites that they still had a place in the new nation now tak-
Formed in 1995, it provided a forum for the airing and investigation of human rights abuses committed under apartheid — both by its defenders and those who fought against it. It was also tasked with making recommendations of amnesty for victimizers and reparations for their victims, and with constructing an authoritative and official record of what happened. The process was imperfect — the military leaders of the apartheid regime refused to participate, the post-Mandela government was slow to act on the commission’s findings. Still, it provided a visionary blueprint for the handling of human rights abuses and reflected a sophisticated understanding of a fundamental principle that escapes many of us: the victims can never be whole and never be healed until they are heard. One can only speculate — and with no small bit of envy — how this country might now be different had it ever understood, as Mandela’s country did, that there can be no reconciliation where there is not first truth. But then, the United States operates under a different credo: ignore it and it
Nate Beeler, The Columbus Dispatch
will go away. The fact that it has It is easy to be dismayed when never worked has never dissuad- one surveys the American political scene, as one listens to the ed the country from believing it. small-minded nattering of mediocre minds unable to conceive of Legacy left behind any cause higher than ideology or “Now he belongs to the agself. But in Nelson Mandela’s long es.” What Secretary of War Edwin and singular life, we are remindStanton famously said of Abraham ed that it does not have to be that Lincoln when the 16th president way. died, President Barack Obama reSelfishness is a choice. Mandela peated Thursday of Nelson Man- refused to make it. And the world dela. And so he does. Now history is a better place because he did. — South African and international — moves on without the man Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columwho did so much to shape it and nist for the Miami Herald. Winbend it toward good. ner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize But the legacy he leaves will for commentary and countshadow that history, always. And less other awards, Pitts is the that’s a reason for hope at a time author of several books. Write when such reasons are in desper- your own response at www.flcourier.com. ately short supply.
Mandela will never, ever be your minstrel Dear revisionists, Mandela will never, ever be your minstrel. Over the next few days you will try so, so hard to make him something he was not, and you will fail. You will try to smooth him, to sandblast him, to take away his Malcolm X. You will try to hide his anger from view. Right now, you are anxiously pacing the corridors of your condos and country estates, looking for the right words, the right tributes, the right-wing tributes. You will say that Mandela was not about race. You will say that Mandela was not about politics. You will say that Mandela was about nothing but one love, you will try to reduce him to a lilting reggae tune. “Let’s get together, and feel alright.” Yes, you will do that.
MUSA OKWONGA GUEST COLUMNIST
You will fail You will make out that apartheid was just some sort of evil mystical space disease that suddenly fell from the heavens and settled on all of us, had us all, black or white, in its thrall, until Mandela appeared from the ether to redeem us. You will try to make Mandela a Magic Negro and you will fail. You will say that Mandela stood above all for forgiveness whilst scuttling
Putting the ‘Man’ in Mandela: A tribute (1918-2013) No slight to women in the anti-apartheid movement, but one of the more interesting aspects of Nelson Mandela's extraordinary legacy is that he helped found the Bantu Men's Social Centre at 26 years old. Note the word "men" is key. Mandela knew that transformation in a society is facilitated by strong MEN at the helm. He started that in 1944. Now 70 years later America's men could use that splash of cold water on the state of its manhood these days. We aren't talking chest thumpers and designer gear namedropping idiots. We are talking about male revolutionaries in the home. The fathers, the workers, the men who see so much injustice that they are compelled to come together, as Mandela and the Bantu Club did and DO SOMETHING. And like all men, Mandela had his faults – he had quite a few wives. He had quite a few questionable violent tactics after seeking nonviolent solutions. But like all men, he became his most gracious, most wonderful, MOST powerful self after suffering enduring circumstances and breaking through the other side of his lengthy Robben Island imprisonment as an all true man. The arc of Mandela's life is a testament to all people, but specifically to all men that the Revolution requires an EVOLUTION of one's soul after trial, error and hardship.
Stay in the fight In short and to put it more direct and bluntly, we men must stay in the fight. No matter if that fight is grandiose or mun-
J. SHAWN DURHAM GUEST COLUMNIST
dane. No job? Don't leave your family. Fight. Acquire skills. Get better. Fight. Don't feel respected? Fight. Get stronger. Be better prepared. Be an honest person and EARN that respect. FIGHT! Mandela wasn't a perfect leader. He wasn't even a perfect man. But he learned. Adapted. Was broken down only to come back stronger. Better. WISER. The world doesn't need more Nelson Mandelas. As my father said to my mom when he named his sons, "We don't need another me. There is only one me. Let these boys be whoever THEY are." The Old Man, as he so often did, got it right. Men must stake their claim to the world and carve out their own identity. If we don't we perish in ineptitude. We don't need another man like Mandela. The world needs more men, period. God bless you, Madiba. Indulge in that great Travelers' Rest. Your Revolution is over. For a world littered with countless broken men, our Revolution is just beginning.
Got question for JSD? Email it to TheBrokeBrothersRevolution@gmail. com or tweet @TheBrokeBroksRev. Write your own response at www.flcourier. com.
swiftly over the details of the perversity that he had the grace to forgive. You will try to make out that apartheid was some horrid spontaneous historical aberration, and not the logical culmination of centuries of imperial arrogance. Yes, you will try that too. You will imply or audaciously state that its evils ended the day Mandela stepped out of jail. You will fold your hands and say the blacks have no-one to blame now but themselves.
Did what was needed Well, try hard as you like, and you’ll fail. Because Mandela was about politics and he was about race and he was about freedom and he was even about force, and
he did what he felt he had to do and given the current economic inequality in South Africa he might even have died thinking he didn’t do nearly enough of it. And perhaps the greatest tragedy of Mandela’s life isn’t that he spent almost thirty years jailed by well-heeled racists who tried to shatter millions of spirits through breaking his soul, but that there weren’t or aren’t nearly enough people like him. Nelson Mandela was not a god, floating elegantly above us and saving us. He was utterly, thoroughly human, and he did all he did in spite of people like you. There is no need to name you because you know who you are, we know who you are, and you know
we know that too. You didn’t break him in life, and you won’t shape him in death. You will try, wherever you are, and you will fail.
Musa Okwonga is a poet, author, sportswriter, broadcaster, musician, communications adviser and commentator on current affairs, including culture, politics, sport, race and sexuality. A scholarship student at Eton College, Musa studied law at Oxford University and then trained as a solicitor in the City before leaving the legal profession to pursue a career as a poet. Write your own response at www.flcourier.com.
Don’t water down Mandela When he was living, Martin Luther King was disliked by a whole lot of people. Many people of African descent joined others in calling King a Communist, a Socialist or a troublemaker. However, nowadays King is remembered as a Baptist preacher that “loved” his enemies and often dreamed about being Free at Last. Our memory of Martin Luther King as a Prince of Peace and an advocate for non-violent social change is not a result of an accident. Devilish powers that be only want us to remember what they want us to remember about King and other African American freedom fighters and heroes.
Whitewashed, sanitized and pasteurized And just like they portrayed Martin Luther King, Nelson “Madiba” Mandela’s memory is being whitewashed, sanitized, pasteurized and watered down! Instead of being a freedom fighter, a warrior against apartheid or a soldier in the fight for equal rights and justice, Nelson Mandela is to many people merely someone who worked with the South African government to bring an end to social apartheid! I say social because in many ways whites still run the South African economy just like white folk still run Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Georgia and other predominately Black cities in America and some Black cities and countries around the world. No one wants you to concentrate on the fact that King met with and respected almost all Black community leaders including people like Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad. Devils don’t want you to know King’s group, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), directly or indirectly worked with groups like the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Nation of Islam, the Black Panther Party and others. Martin Luther King was an or-
Mandela was a great,
Nelson Mandela loved. Mandela loved Hugo Chavez and he loved Muammar al-Gaddafi. Nelson Mandela loved Fidel Castro and other world leaders hated by the West because people like Castro sent troops (many Black Cubans) to fight against African oppression and exploitation.
great person, and so
was his former wife
Yes, Mandela did what he had to do to save South Africa. Mandela had to keep Shites in South Africa even when victims of apartheid wanted to kill all Whites in the country or at least make them leave South Africa at a time certain. Mandela had to make “peace” with the Whites not so much because he loved them, he did it because Whites had all of the soldiers, all of the best weapons, all of the money, all of the technology, all of the high end work experience, most of the land and most of the country’s resources. I applaud Mandela for doing what was right at the time. Blacks in the United States have been “free” for 400 years and still don’t control much in America so why do you think Black South Africans can excel in every area and they haven’t been free from apartheid for 40 years? Mandela was a great, great person, and so was his former wife Winnie Mandela, but Nelson was not the “Mandela Lite” that Western governments and their imperialist press wants you to think he was.
Lucius Gantt THE GANTT REPORT
Winnie Mandela, but Nelson was not the ‘Mandela Lite’ that Western governments and their imperialist press wants you to think he was. dinary man that was blessed by God to do extraordinary things for his people and for the world. King taught us not to be afraid of the enemy.
So many haters Just like King, Mandela had many “haters!” Extreme militants in and outside of the African continent are still angry about Mandela’s relationship with his Nobel Peace Prize co-winner F. W. De Klerk, the last State President of apartheid era South Africa. Western world leaders, including those in the United States, now say they loved Mandela but say little about the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) involvement in Mandela’s arrest and the labeling of Mandela and other Black South Africans as terrorists. The politicians that you love never ever loved the people that
Buy the best holiday gift, Gantt's book "Beast Too: Dead Man Writing" online or at any major bookstore. Contact Lucius at www.allworldconsultants. net. Write your response online at www.flcourier.com.
NELSON MANDELA 1918-2013
DECEMBER 13 – DECEMBER 19, 2013
“Every day is for all practical purposes like the day before: the same surroundings, same faces, same dialogue, same odor, walls rising to the skies and the ever-present feeling that outside the prison gates there is an exciting world to which you have no access.’’ – Nelson Mandela wrote in 1987
PETE SOUZA/CHICAGO TRIBUNE/MCT
U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) tours Robben Island near Capetown, South Africa, with Ahmed Kathrada, background, on Aug. 20, 2006. Kathrada also had been a prisoner at Robben Island. Photographs of Nelson Mandela in prison were banded. This one was taken by a fellow prisoner and smuggled out. It shows him repairing his prison cloths in 1966 at Robben Island.
Robben Island: The place that changed Nelson Mandela BY ROBYN DIXON LOS ANGELES TIMES/MCT
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — The brightly painted ferry sailed to the island prison like a dazzling bird swooping down to land. The prisoner caught sight of the vessel, far off on the shimmering sea. The boat was his friend. It was bringing his family to see him. It was Nov. 9, 1970, and the prisoner was Nelson Mandela, held on Robben Island for his leading role in planning bomb attacks. “A visit to a prison has a significance difficult to put into words,” Mandela wrote in a letter to a friend in 1987. These were the “unforgettable occasions when that frustrating monotony is broken and the entire world is literally ushered into the cell.”
Alone again Later that afternoon, watching the ferry steam away with his wife, who looked frail, Mandela felt desolate. The boat was no longer his friend, but his enemy. “Though it still retained its brightness, the beauty I had seen only a few hours before was gone. Now it looked grotesque and quite unfriendly. As it drifted slowly away with you, I felt all alone in the world,” he wrote in a November 1970 letter to his wife, Winnie Mandela. Mandela’s cell was small and bare, with a lidded metal bucket for a toilet, a narrow bed, a small table and three small painted metal cupboards fixed high on the wall. Outside, tall stone towers glared with slitted windows like ever-watching eyes.
Couldn’t sing The prisoners emptied their own buckets each morning. Mandela emptied his and that of a neighboring prisoner who left his cell for his daily labor. The job
had fallen to another prisoner, who refused. “So then I cleaned it for him because it meant nothing for me. I cleaned my bucket every day and I had no problem, you see, in cleaning the bucket of another,” he says in his book “Conversations With Myself.” On Robben Island, the political prisoners faced hard labor, breaking rocks in the lime quarry. They were ordered not to sing, and were denied reading material and the opportunity to play sports. “They wanted to break our spirits. So what we did was sing freedom songs and everybody . . . went through the work with high morale and then of course dancing to the music as we were working, you know. Then the authorities realized that . . . ‘these chaps are too militant. They’re in high spirits.’ And they say, ‘No singing as you are working.’ So you really felt the toughness of the work.”
Politics continued Charges were trumped up by the wardens and punishments ensued: solitary confinement and withholding of food. “What happened was that they would decide in the morning before we (went) to work that soand-so and so-and-so would be punished. And once they took that decision, it didn’t matter how hard you worked that morning. You would be punished at the end of the day.” One of the wardens would urinate next to the prisoners, sometimes right by the table where their food was dished out. But the apartheid regime made a mistake: keeping the political prisoners together, allowing the leaders of the banned African National Congress and other resistance groups to mix. Politics went on inside the prison. Mandela penned an autobiography, letters to lawyers and other political statements, all of which were smuggled out.
‘Mandela University’ In addition to politics, there was education. Robben Island was later known to the liberation struggle veterans as “Mandela University.” Between their laboring in the quarry, prisoners gave one another lessons. The current South African president, Jacob Zuma, was taught to read and write on Robben Island. Mandela completed a law degree. The ANC leadership used the daily injustices in the prison as another platform for its struggle against oppression of Blacks. For Mandela and the other prisoners, the routine was hard to bear. “Every day is for all practical purposes like the day before: the same surroundings, same faces, same dialogue, same odor, walls rising to the skies and the everpresent feeling that outside the prison gates there is an exciting world to which you have no access,” Mandela wrote in the 1987 letter.
Calm and pacifying Toward the end of his 27 years in prison, most of them on Robben Island, some wondered whether Mandela would be out of touch when he was released. “Businesspeople and Western officials fretted that he would be a Rip Van Winkle figure, clinging to the outdated economic philosophy he had espoused before being imprisoned,” Alec Russell wrote in the book “After Mandela.” “Some nervously remembered that as a politician he had a reputation for being a hothead.” He had gone into prison an angry rebel who believed that violent revolution was the only answer. After his release, the firebrand rhetoric was gone (to the disappointment of some). Rather than the stirring oratory of yesteryear, his speeches were calm and pacifying, always calling for reconciliation and unity.
This photograph of Nelson Mandela, which was taken and smuggled out, shows him speaking to Walter Sisulu in the prison courtyard. He was ‘kept busy’ performing hard labor in a mine quarry. He also studied law through continued correspondence with the University of London and received a degree of Bachelor of Laws. He was at Robben Island for 18 of his 27 years spent in prison.
Forgave oppressors At the negotiating table, he persuaded Whites to surrender power. He averted a tribal and civil war that many felt certain was inevitable, and managed to unite South Africans under his banner of nonracial democracy. Mandela never forgot the good prison guards and police, or the bad. Years later, he and fellow prisoner Ahmed Kathrada discussed the idea of inviting wardens and some members of the apartheid security police over for lunch. They even talked of inviting one of the worst, who had severely tortured some ANC activ-
ists before they went to prison. Robben Island left him damaged. But without the years of self-examination and meditation — seeing positive things in his darkest hours — Mandela might never have become such a remarkable leader after he walked free. “At least, if for nothing else,” he wrote in a 1975 letter to his wife, “the cell gives you the opportunity to look daily into your entire conduct, to overcome the bad and develop whatever is good in you. “Never forget that a saint is a sinner who keeps on trying.”
HEALTH FOOD || HEALTH TRAVEL | |MONEY SCIENCE | BOOKS | MOVIES | TV | AUTOS LIFE | FAITH | EVENTS | CLASSIFIEDS | ENTERTAINMENT | SPORTS | FOOD COURIER
December 13 - December 19, 2013
Female veterans do battle for benefits at home See page B4
SHARING BLACK LIFE, STATEWIDE
Art Basel makes huge impact in Miami Beach See page B2
SOUTH FLORIDA / TREASURE COAST AREA www.flcourier.com
Nelson Mandela Architect of peace By Andrew Maykuth The Philadelphia Inquirer
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, was the legendary engineer of the peaceful transfer of power in the world’s most rigidly segregated nation. Mandela, who devoted his life to fighting South Africa’s system of apartheid, became one of the 20th century’s most revered leaders after being released from prison in 1990. He shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 with F.W. de Klerk, the former South African president who negotiated the white government’s abdication of power, resulting in Mandela’s landslide 1994 election at age 75 in the nation’s first nonracial vote. Mandela became a mythic figure during his 27 years in prison. When he finally was freed, he was one of the rare heroes who actually lived up to his legend. “I knew as well as I knew anything that the oppressor must be liberated just as surely as the oppressed,” he wrote in his 1994 autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom.” With equanimity and wit, he disarmed his adversaries. The National Party government released him from prison assuming it would be able to maneuver him into a deal that would effectively perpetuate white rule, but they were undone by Mandela’s perseverance. A shrewd and skillful politician, Mandela was one of the few black leaders who had the credibility to bridge the gap between radicals and moderates in the African National Congress, the liberation movement that now governs South Africa. His strength as a leader was his ability to tone down militant blacks who wanted to settle scores after 31/4 centuries of racial oppression and to reassure nervous whites that they had a place in South Africa’s future, thus preserving the nation’s dynamic economy. Genteel, dignified and noble, Mandela also had what one writer called a “puckish streak.” He was full of joie de vivre and would sometimes break out into a spontaneous slow-shoe dance that came to be known as the “Mandela Jive.” He also could be stern and unforgiving to those who did not heed his orders. Affectionately known as “Madiba,” Mandela was beyond reproach and was treated gently by the South African news media. He did not smoke, he did not eat red meat and he sipped wine publicly only when it was helpful for promoting South Africa’s vineyards. He disdained business suits on all but state occasions, opting for colorful print shirts that became his trademark. He sacrificed his family life to the anti-apartheid struggle. He divorced his first wife because she did not share his passion for politics. He spent the prime of his adult life in jail, losing touch with his children and growing distant from his second wife, Winnie Mandela. The couple were divorced after an embarrassing public trial in 1996.
A PRINCE AND A LAWYER Mandela grew up in a rural South Africa where he accepted the supremacy of all things white. It was only after he was politicized in the city by such radicals as Walter Sisulu that he began his transformation to black liberator and icon. He was born July 18, 1918, in Mvezo, a tiny village in South
Africa’s Eastern Cape. He was a prince at birth — the son of a chief of the Thembu tribe, part of the Xhosa nation. In 1941, Mandela was introduced to the ANC, the leading black nationalist organization. Obtaining his law degree, he set up the first black law practice in the city with partner Oliver Tambo, who would later become chairman of the ANC. In 1944, he helped found the African National Congress Youth League to prod the staid ANC to campaign more actively for an end to racial segregation. Eight years later, the 34-year-old Mandela was charged with leading the ANC’s Defiance Campaign against the passage of stricter apartheid laws. In the late 1950s, the government made its first attempt to convict Mandela and other anti-apartheid activists in what became known as the Treason Trials. Mandela and his lawyers ridiculed the state’s clumsy attempts to trump up a treason charge, and they were acquitted. In the 1960s, while Europe granted independence to its African colonies and a clamor for freedom went up across the continent, the white government in South Africa dug in its heels. The anti-apartheid movement went through a monumental change.
UNDER-COVER, IN PLAIN SIGHT After the government declared a state of emergency in 1961, Mandela concluded that the ANC had no choice but to resort to a campaign of sabotage. He
Illustration byJennifer Pritchard/ MCT
went underground and was named commander in chief of the ANC’s new guerrilla army, Umkhonto we Sizwe, Spear of the Nation. He received military training in Algeria. For 17 months in the early 1960s, he disguised himself as a chauffeur or a garden boy and eluded police. The Mandela legend began to build. The ANC set up its underground headquarters on a farm in Rivonia, a Johannesburg suburb. On Aug. 5, 1962, after a trip to Africa and Europe to seek help training the liberation army, Mandela was driving in Natal Province when he was arrested and convicted of incitement and sabotage and sentenced to five years in prison. He ended up spending nearly three decades in jail. While he was serving his sentence, the government raided the farmhouse in Rivonia and discovered a bounty of evidence linking Mandela to acts of sabotage. This time, the government was playing for keeps. Mandela and other ANC leaders were charged
with treason. At the Rivonia trial, Mandela never denied the charges. He turned the defendant’s stand into a pulpit and spent hours explaining why he felt justice compelled him to carry out such acts. His oration was quoted by followers for years to come. The eight ANC leaders got life sentences. At age 44, Mandela and his compatriots were shipped off to Robben Island, a rocky outcrop off Cape Town.
FINALLY FREE Mandela’s stature grew in prison, through the skillful promotion by the exiled ANC leadership. The apartheid government leaders, petrified that he would die in jail and become more
A young Nelson Mandela, circa 1937. Mandela spent most of his 27 years of imprisonment on Robben Island in this small cell. South Africa has its first all-race election in June 1994. A LOOK BACK AT FORMER SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT AND FREEDOM FIGHTER
EARLY YEARS Born July 18, 1918 Son of a tribal chief 1942 Suspended from university studies due to political involvement 1952 Law degree
EMERGING AS LEADER 1944 Helped found African National Congress (ANC) Youth League advocating boycott, strike, civil disobedience against white rule 1951-52 ANC Youth League president During the 1950s Banned, arrested and imprisoned several times
PRISONER 466/64 1962 Arrested, convicted of sabotage; sentenced to five years 1964 Charged again, sentenced to life; spent two decades on Robben Island 1990 Released from prison
NEGOTIATING PEACE 1993 Accepts Nobel Peace Prize (along with F. W. de Klerk) 1994 Era of apartheid formally ends with first free elections; elected first black president of a democratic South Africa 1999 Steps down as president after one term Source: Reuters, BBC, MCT photo
© 2012 MCT
FAMILY Married three times; six children; in 1998 married Graca Machel, widow of Mozambican President Samora Machel
LATER LIFE 2004 Retires from public life 2007 Launches international group of elder statesman to tackle world problems 2010 Last public appearance at closing ceremony of World Cup in South Africa
powerful as a martyr, often offered to release Mandela. But the government’s offers always carried conditions — that Mandela agree to renounce the armed struggle, or live under a form of house arrest. Mandela’s defiant refusal merely added to his growing worldwide legend. In 1986, isolated from his fellow prisoners, Mandela opened a line of communications with the apartheid government. When President P. W. Botha was ousted in a coup in 1989, Mandela met Botha’s successor, de Klerk. He repeated his demand: He would leave jail only when the government recognized the ANC and the Communist Party and agreed to negotiate a new constitution. On Feb. 11, 1990, de Klerk freed Mandela.
GROWING PAINS AND RELATIVE PEACE It has been by no means an easy transition. Before the 1994 elections, South Africa went through its worst episode of political violence, much of it blackon-black killing between the ANC and its rival, the Inkatha Freedom Party. The first few years under Mandela were not smooth as the government sometimes fumbled to deliver on promises to the newly empowered black majority. Mandela perhaps was not the most able administrator, but his lasting achievement was not so much in governing as in creating the stage for the new government. He made it clear that he had no intention of spending more than one five-year term as president. In 1999, Mandela retired from politics, moving back to the town of his birth with Graca Machel, the widow of Mozambican President Samora Machel. They were married in 1998. Mandela remained fairly healthy through his later years, though he was diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer in 2001. In June 2004, at age 85, he announced his formal retirement from public life, and he largely stayed out of the spotlight. In 2007, Mandela convened a group of world leaders, dubbed “The Elders,” committed to finding solutions to problems around the globe. He made his final public appearance in 2010 at the World Cup, and in 2011 he met privately with first lady Michelle Obama. Mandela spent his last years in relative peace, watching the country he loved cope with the growing pains of independence. “The truth is that we are not yet free,” Mandela wrote, “we have merely achieved the freedom to be free, the right not to be oppressed.”
DECEMBER 13 – DECEMBER 19, 2013
Sylvia’s brings Harlem flavor to St. Petersburg Rich history
Iconic soul food restaurant opens at historic site
Sylvia’s St. Petersburg is the first upscale soul food eatery in the city’s history and helps fulfill a long-held dream to revive the historic Manhattan Casino, which opened in the 1920s as a dance hall for the city’s Black citizens. The Manhattan, as some affectionately call it, hosted star performers such as James Brown, Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, Nat King Cole and Sarah Vaughn. The restaurant is located at 642 22nd Street S. in St. Petersburg. It now occupies the ground floor of the 15,000 square-foot facility. It’s top floor has become a new hot spot for special events in the community.
SPECIAL TO THE FLORIDA COURIER
After nearly a month in operation, the flow of customers has yet to subside at the new Sylvia’s “Queen of Soul Food” Restaurant in South St. Petersburg. That’s thanks to the family-tofamily connection sparked by the Woods family, owners of Sylvia’s in New York, and the extended family of Florida’s Aracle Foods Corporation, which is based in St. Petersburg. The original Sylvia’s Restaurant opened in New York’s historic village of Harlem in 1962 by world-renowned chef SylSylvia via Woods, who Woods died last year. To date, this soul food institution is owned and operated by two generations of the Woods family. The enterprise expanded over the years to include Sylvia’s Catering, Sylvia’s Food Products sold nationwide, two cookbooks, and a real estate holding company.
Family backing While Sylvia’s children – Kenneth, Van, Bedelia and Crizette - focus on corporate growth and development – the “grands”
Chitterlings on menu
PHOTO COURTESY OF POWER BROKER MAGAZINE
Sylvia’s is located in the historic Manhattan Casino building, once a thriving dance hall for Blacks in the city. Tren’ness, Kendra, Zaqura, Lindsey, Tamicka, Shauna and Vonet - are the engine of the operation, handling everything from public relations to front-store sales. That same spirit drives the new St. Petersburg restaurant, which officially opened to the public on Nov. 9 with the family backing of Larry and Bettye Newsome
of Aracle Foods, and a network of community leaders. Kenneth Woods, CEO of Sylvia’s Restaurant Harlem added, “The Newsome’s represent the tradition of family ownership and community empowerment, which has been at the very foundation of our business philosophy for 51 years. What better way
to build upon the legacy of the Sylvia’s brand than to open in the historic Manhattan Casino.” The new St. Petersburg is a licensed affiliate of Sylvia’s of Harlem. The two families are working hand in hand to perfect the Sylvia’s touch for the new venture.
Open seven days a week, the menu offers traditional soul food favorites like chicken and waffles, smothered pork chops, and even chitterlings (served Friday through Sunday). “We choose Sylvia’s because it’s the most famous soul food brand in America. That gave us a legacy to build on in attracting local clientele as well as international and national tourists,” said Larry Newsome. He and his wife, Bettye, oversee day-to-day operations and the growth of Sylvia’s business lines, including catering and group sales. For more information, visit sylviasstpete.com.
Art Basel draws 75,000 to Miami Beach SPECIAL TO THE FLORIDA COURIER
KIM GIBSON/FLORIDA COURIER
Chrystal Forbs from Miami checks out the art at Art Basel Miami Beach held Dec. 5-8.
Art Basel, recognized as the premier international art show, was held in Miami Beach Dec. 5-8. The 2013 edition of Art Basel in Miami Beach drew strong praise from collectors, gallerists, critics and visitors. With an expanded public sector and a vibrantly diverse line-up of talks, performances and film screenings, the quality of works exhibited was matched by the show’s programming. The 12th edition was de-
scribed by many observers as the strongest-ever Art Basel show in Miami Beach It featured 258 leading international galleries Art Basel in Miami Beach attracted an attendance of 75,000 over the five show days, a seven percent increase over last year. More
than 140 museum and institution groups from across the world – as well as renowned private collectors from the Americas, Europe, Asia and emerging markets – attended the show. “We’ve had a very successful fair this year, with
strong and significant sales of works by young, mid-career, and established artists. We are very happy with our results,” said Monika Sprüth of Sprüth Magers, which is located in Berlin The show also is held annually in Basel, Switzerland; and Hong Kong.
ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE FOR BLACK STUDENTS. NO EXCUSES. The classic guide from Florida Courier publisher, lawyer and broadcaster CHARLES W. CHERRY II PRAISE FOR ‘EXCELLENCE WITHOUT EXCUSE’:
PORGY AND BESS
“The Gershwins’ “Porgy and Bess’’ will be staged in Naples, Tampa and West Palm Beach in January. More information: www.porgyandbessthemusical.com.
The Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists will host a holiday media mixer from 6 to 10 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 16, at Manhattan Dolce Bar & Bistro, 4328 W. El Brado Blvd. Shawn Brown will perform at 8 p.m. More information.www.tbabj.com.
“This guide for African-American college-bound students is packed with practical and insightful information for achieving academic success...The primary focus here is to equip students with the savvy and networking skills to maneuver themselves through the academic maze of higher education.” – Book review, School Library Journal • How low expectations of Black students’ achievements can get them higher grades;
PHOTO BY LEXI LEWIS • Want a great grade? Prepare to cheat! • How Black students can program their minds for success; • Setting goals – When to tell everybody, and when to keep your mouth shut; • Black English, and why Black students must be ‘bilingual.’
…AND MUCH MORE!
The ninth annual Jazz in the Gardens is March 15-16 in Miami Gardens. Artists will include Anthony Hamilton. More information: www. jazzinthegardens.com.
FLORIDA COMMUNITY CALENDAR Eatonville: Zora! Festival 2014 will feature Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly. The festival in Eatonville is Jan. 25- Feb. 2. More information: www.zorafestival.org. Tampa: The Ohio Players and
Pieces of a Dream will give free performances during the Tampa Black Heritage Festival. The event is Jan. 1625. See schedule at www. tampablackheritage.org. Orlando: A show featuring Sinbad is scheduled at 8 p.m. Dec. 20 at Hard Rock Live Orlando. St. Petersburg: “The Chocolate Nutcracker’’ is now
“The Nutcracker Twist.’’ The performance is Dec. 31 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at The Mahaffey Theater. Miami: The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County will present Jazz Roots: A Larry Rosen Jazz Series – Big Band Holidays featuring Wynton Marsalis and Cecile Mclorin Salvant on Dec. 20. Visit: www.arshtcenter.org.
Download immediately as an eBook or a pdf Order softcover online, from Amazon, or your local bookstore ISBN#978-1-56385-500-9 Published by International Scholastic Press, LLC Contact Charles at firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook ccherry2 excellencewithoutexcuse
for info on speeches, workshops, seminars, book signings, panel discussions.
DECEMBER 13 – DECEMBER 19, 2013
FLORIDA & nation
The Florida courts decided that even though Hall had limits in functioning and adaptive behavior, because his IQ scores were not below 70, Hall was not intellectually disabled and could be executed. It’s these borderline cases where the individual state implementations matter, Nygren said. “Intellectual disability, like genius, is on a continuum,” Nygren said. “It’s challenging for states to legislate that this person is ‘in’ or ‘out.’ ” Still, the court shouldn’t wade too much into the specifics of setting protocols to define intellectual disability, said Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, which advocates for victims of crime. “If the Supreme Court gets into issues like these and declares them to be federal constitutional mandates,” Scheidegger said, “we will have a long stretch of litigation as the high court resolves one issue after another, never reaching the end.”
CHARLES DHARAPAK/AP VIA ABACA PRESS/MCT
Supreme Court Justices, from left, Chief Justice John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan await the start of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill on Feb. 12. The Supreme Court will weigh the death penalty case in March.
High court to revisit death penalty for mentally disabled Supremes to hear case of Florida man on death row for 30 years BY MAGGIE CLARK STATELINE.ORG
WASHINGTON — How should states decide if someone convicted of a crime has an intellectual disability, when the answer means life or death? This spring the Supreme Court will wade back into these murky waters, 12 years after it took the death penalty off the table for criminals with mental disabilities but left the details to the states. In its 6-3 decision in Atkins v. Virginia, authored by Justice John Paul Stevens, the court prohibited states from executing anyone with “mental retardation.” Mental health professionals define it as substantial limitations in intellectual functions such as reasoning or problemsolving, limitations in adaptive behavior or “street smarts,” and evidence of the condition before age 18. (Mental retardation is the term used in law, but most clinicians and The Associated Press refer to the condition as intellectual disability.) After the decision, most states stuck with the three-pronged clinical definition, but Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Texas set their own standards. Under Florida’s law, if you have an IQ over 70, you’re eligible for execution regardless of intellectual function or adaptive behavior.
Florida case Freddie Lee Hall, who has been
on Florida’s death row for more than 30 years and scored in the mid70s on IQ tests, is arguing the state’s standard amounts to unconstitutional punishment. Freddie Most likely, the Lee Hall case won’t result in a dramatic shift in national criminal justice policy, but will further clarify who should and should not be eligible for execution, said Ronald Tabak, an attorney who has repPam resented multiple Bondi clients with intellectual disabilities and chairs the American Bar Association’s death penalty committee. “There is no reason to think that the court is taking this case because the court loves that Florida is going against the norms of the mental health field,” Tabak said. “The more likely reason they granted (judicial review) is …to say there are certain basic things about intellectual disability that you can’t exclude from consideration.”
March 3 arguments That’s not the way Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi sees it. The Atkins decision, she wrote in her brief to the Supreme Court, “expressly left the task of defining retardation to the states,” and Florida is free to adopt its own standard for determining who is
intellectually disabled. “Freddie Lee Hall faces a death sentence for the 1978 murder of Karol Hurst, and Florida courts have found that he is not intellectually disabled,” said Bondi. “We will urge the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold Hall’s sentence.” The court’s makeup has shifted since the 2002 Atkins decision. But if the justices split along ideological lines, the vote could favor Hall, assuming that swing vote Justice Anthony Kennedy sides with Hall, as he did with Atkins in 2002. Arguments are set for March 3.
Other cases Similar cases are percolating beyond Florida. In Georgia, death row inmate Warren Hill is fighting execution based on substantial evidence that he is intellectually disabled. In Texas, where the courts use an anecdotal seven-part test largely based on the characteristics of the fictional character Lennie from John Steinbeck’s novel “Of Mice and Men” to determine intellectual disability, multiple prisoners have been executed in recent years even when they’ve scored well below 70 on IQ tests. Last year, Texas executed Marvin Wilson, who was convicted of murder in 1994, even though he had an IQ of 61. In 2010, Virginia executed Teresa Lewis for her role in a murder-for-hire scheme, even though she had an IQ of 72 and her co-conspirators admitted Lewis did not plan the murder. These are the types of cases advocates want the Supreme Court to revisit. “It’s our hope that the
court will clarify that states must use the clinical definition for intellectual disability … not only for current cases but for future cases, too,” said Margaret Nygren, executive director and CEO of the American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
‘Mind of a child’ Freddie Lee Hall was convicted of co-planning and carrying out the murder of 21-year-old Karol Hurst in Leesburg in 1978. After spending the day scouting the parking lot of a local grocery store with his partner, Mack Ruffin, Hall forced Hurst, who was seven months pregnant, into her car and drove her into the woods. There, Ruffin sexually assaulted and shot Hurst. A jury convicted Hall of first-degree murder for his role in the murder scheme. Since Hall was sentenced to death in 1981, he has made multiple appeals based on his low IQ, which varied from 71 to 80 depending on the tests and their margins of error. “He has been the same ever since I’ve known him, and he has the mind of a child,” said his attorney, Eric Pinkard, who has been working with Hall since 1999.
Borderline cases In multiple hearings to prove his intellectual disability, Hall’s family and longtime friends testified about Hall’s struggles with reading, writing and caring for himself, and recounted how Hall experienced abuse, starvation and torture as a child.
Making that determination is generally subject to clinical judgment, Nygren said. “Clinicians must pick scientifically valid tests that are culturally relevant and standardized, but also individualized,” Nygren said. “For instance, if someone’s been in jail for last five years, it’s hard to evaluate if they’re good at managing money since they don’t have money to manage. That’s where clinical judgment comes in.” Beyond IQ tests, the disability manifests in limitations in learning and reasoning, and difficulty with social skills, personal care and language. These factors are just as relevant as an IQ test score, which, said Nygren, “is never going to give you 100 percent (certainty), even though that’s the expectation placed on the test.” Advocates like Nygren want the court to require states to pay more attention to margins of error when determining intellectual disability. Leaving the determination of mental disability to the states, “has given states a lot of leeway to do mischief with the definition of intellectual disability,” said Brian Kammer, executive director of the Georgia Resource Center, which provides free legal services for death row inmates.
High burden of proof For instance, Georgia requires defendants to prove their intellectual disability “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the highest standard of proof in the criminal justice system. Georgia is the only state that requires such a high burden of proof, and the legislature is considering lowering the standard in the next legislative session. Still, the Atkins decision has had an impact on executions. At least 98 people have had their death sentence changed since 2002 by proving that they were intellectually disabled, according to data from the Death Penalty Information Center. By their count, in the 18 years before the Atkins decision, at least 44 people who likely suffered from intellectual disabilities were executed. Nationally, states are carrying out fewer death sentences than they have since the penalty was reinstated in 1976. So far in 2013, 36 people have been executed in nine states. In 2012, 43 people were executed in nine states.
Black unemployment rate drops slightly in November BY FREDERICK H. LOWE TRICE EDNEY NEWS WIRE
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for African-Americans dropped in November as the nation’s nonfarm payroll expanded by 203,000 jobs, which was stronger than what many analysts had expected. The jobless rate for Blacks, however, was still much higher compared to Whites, to Hispanics and to Asians, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this week. The unemployment rate for Blacks was 12.5 percent in November, compared to 13.1 percent in October. The November rate compares to 6.2 percent for Whites and 8.7 percent for Hispanics. The unemployment rate for Asians was 5.3 percent, but it was not seasonally adjusted. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the jobless rate in November for Black men 20 years old and older was 12.5 percent, down from 13 percent in October. In comparison, White
men in the same age group reported an unemployment rate of 6 percent, down from 6.2 percent in October. The jobless rate in November for Black women 20 years old and older was 11.1 percent, compared to 11.5 percent in October, BLS reported.
Thousands stopped looking White women 20 years old and older reported the nation’s lowest jobless rate on a seasonally adjusted basis. Last month, their unemployment rate was 5.3 percent, down from 5.5 percent in October. The nation’s unemployment rate declined to 7 percent from 7.3 percent, the labor report showed. The Washington, D.C.-based Center for Economic and Policy Research reported that the number of jobs created in November was the second-consecutive month that the economy added more than 200,0000 jobs.
In October, the nonfarm payroll expanded by a revised 200,000 jobs. “It was impressive that the jobs gains were broadly spread across industries,” the Center for Economic and Policy Research reported. “Manufacturing added 27,000 jobs after adding 16,000 in October. This is the largest twomonth gain since February and March of 2012.” The labor report also showed job gains in warehousing, health care, professional and business services, retail, construction, leisure and hospitality. The Bureau of Labor Statistics noted, however, that 7.7 million workers were employed part time and that there were 762,000 discouraged workers in November. These are workers who have stopped looking.
This story is special to the Trice Edney News Wire from TheNorthStarNews.com.
JILL TOYOSHIBA/KANSS CITY STAR/MCT
Stephon Jones, of North Kansas City, took a job this summer at Ford plant after working several lower-wage jobs in the past few years. Here, he holds daughter, Selena, on Sept. 24.
DECEMBER 13 – DECEMBER 19, 2013
Female veterans battle for benefits at home Homelessness, sexual abuse, mental health among major issues BY ANNIE SWEENEY CHICAGO TRIBUNE/MCT
CHICAGO — When Xatavia Hughes, the granddaughter of a military man, went to serve in Iraq, she was prepared to prove herself to the male soldiers. “My grandfather was tough and strong. That is how I was brought up: ‘Don’t let it get to you. Show them,’ ” the 28-year-old mother of two said. And she did. It was only after she returned from a war zone to Chicago in December 2010 that Hughes began to feel tested. A month after returning, Hughes found herself in an improbable spot: living in a dorm room at the Pacific Garden Mission, the sprawling homeless shelter on the city’s West Side, shielding her two sons from addicts and criminals. “Often when I was in shelter there was a bunch of veterans,” Hughes said of her six months of homelessness. “When we get out, I thought we were supposed to be taken care of. And I was like, ‘Wow, this is how our life is going to be?’ I never felt that I would do so much good and then have to be pushed aside.”
New issues for VA Hughes was like so many women over the past decade who stepped up to serve as the country launched two wars. They saw it as a way to get ahead in life and forge a different future. Women have become the fastest-growing segment of the veteran population, a trend that is expected to continue. Their return has posed several new issues for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Many are single moms. They have been adversely affected by the scandal of military sexual trauma that affects 1 in 5 women who serve. They report higher rates of mental health illnesses and homelessness. Many don’t feel comfortable in the male-dominated VA. And though they already served in dangerous, life-threatening positions, the recent decision to allow women to fight in combat zones means even more are likely to return with complex and severe injuries that need attention.
NANCY STONE/CHICAGO TRIBUNE/MCT
Iraqi war veteran Xatavia Hughes, left, eats breakfast with her sons Tatum Green, center and Tyler Green before church on Sunday, Nov. 10 in Chicago.
More caseworkers Local VA hospitals have improved care and increased services for women vets, even down to their design and architectural elements. A new housing complex for veterans with families is scheduled to open next summer, offering some relief. The VA launched a hotline just for female vets in the spring. And in the latest recognition of the need for services, a longstanding community mental health organization, Thresholds, this year expanded its existing veteran services, assigning more caseworkers to connect with female vets struggling on Chicago’s streets. The need to reach female vets was identified in a May 2012 VA report as “acute,” given the rapid growth of the population, not to mention that they are now suffering injuries similar to male soldiers. The report cited higher rates of homelessness among women and lower access and enrollment in VA health care. Thresholds secured a $350,000 grant to provide a range of services, from therapy to employment assistance, for an even more specific population: female vets with mental health issues. “They have a lot more going on
in their lives,” said Lydia Zopf, director of the veteran’s project at Thresholds, which is running the program. “They are more vulnerable.”
Bittersweet return Thresholds offers gender-specific programming, including the option for vets to work with female staff. Among the Thresholds clients is Hughes, who spiraled into homelessness about a month after returning home. Her $3,500 in savings went to expenses that included moving costs, winter clothes for her boys and “rent” payments to family members who offered her temporary and cramped spaces. Meanwhile, her anxiety and stress was mounting. Fireworks on the Fourth of July sent her diving for cover. She mourned numerous losses in her unit. “I was so happy to see my kids, my family,” she said. “But it was bittersweet because a lot of people didn’t get a chance to see their kids. … I felt guilty. I feel guilty.” Hughes was able to secure a federal veteran housing voucher with the help of a caseworker at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in Chicago that let her get out of the shelters and into a Chicago
home after about six months.
Felt isolated For some returning female veterans, the challenges are especially daunting. Back inside the Thresholds office on the North Side, Pulju meets with a 29-year-old Chicago woman who served in the Air Force and is currently covered 100 percent by the VA for PTSD. She can’t tell a reporter what happened, only that she knows the military changed her. “It’s like I was alone,” she said. “I had my family. It felt like I didn’t know them. They didn’t know me anymore.” Her goals, which she ticks off slowly to Pulju, seem simple yet tragically complicated at the same time. “Being involved in more things. Getting out there meeting more people,” she said before hesitating for a long pause. “Stop being so isolated.” In its 2012 report, the VA cited concerns that women were not accessing health care — something vets and experts here also have observed. Jenny Garretson, the program manager for women veterans at Jesse Brown, said female vets can feel lost. “I can’t tell you how many
A health care navigator in unfriendly waters Getting Obamacare information out in rural America has its challenges BY BRIAN BENNETT TRIBUNE WASHINGTON BUREAU/MCT
MURFREESBORO, N.C. — Snow came early to the cotton and sorghum fields here, sending dozens of cash-strapped families to the food bank on a recent afternoon for frozen chickens, cucumbers and canned green beans. Quinetta Rascoe was waiting for them. Wearing a bright pink overcoat, a glittery rainbow scarf and an infectious grin, Rascoe climbed out of a Toyota sedan carrying a stack of Obamacare brochures. She eyed about 60 cars that were snaking into the parking lot behind Murfreesboro Baptist Church, prompting an unusual traffic jam one block off the town’s dozy Main Street. The food truck was late, and white plumes floated up from mufflers as the drivers switched their engines on and off and on again to warm themselves with blasts of heat. “OK,” Rascoe said, grabbing a pile of freshly printed business cards. “Let’s go talk to people.” Rascoe is one of thousands of foot soldiers hired nationwide to sign Americans up for coverage under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Her task is made all the more challenging because she works in one of the Republican-led states openly hostile to the act. The GOP-controlled Legislature ordered state health officials not to cooperate with the federal program.
‘Fight on’ Rascoe, 37, works most days in a small office at the Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center in nearby Ahoskie. The mouse for her desktop computer rests on a yellow foam pad stamped in red with the outline of a Trojan, the mascot for the University of Southern California, where she is taking online courses toward a master’s degree in social work. A USC banner pinned to the wall reads: “Fight on.” When a person walks into her office, Rascoe asks questions to figure out whether the customer
‘Rampant sexism’ Wilson, who served in Kuwait in the early 2000s, nodded. “Ladies have been mistreated in different ways, anything as serious as (military sexual trauma) to just the sexism, the rampant sexism,” Wilson said. “It’s a part of the culture. That is not going to change overnight, and most of us accepted that. But when you get out … I have heard a lot of ladies say, ‘I am not a soldier anymore.’ They close that door. They don’t feel like a vet.” That women have not served in official combat roles — though they are often impacted along with male soldiers — might also explain why they and others are less likely to see themselves as veterans. “I was never deployed. I never saw any of the Iraqi Freedom action, but it created issues,” said Air Force vet Tessa Clark, 28, who served at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware in 2003 when so many war dead were returned there. “It was hard for me to be in a lot of the veteran places. They are not friendly when you haven’t seen any action.’’ None of those were Rascoe’s clients. Since then, she has completed the enrollment process with four applicants.
Smile and information Many of the people in this rural swath of North Carolina — despite being among the neediest potential beneficiaries of Obamacare — remain skeptical and uninformed. Walking up to the first vehicle, Rascoe smiled, shuffled on the balls of her feet and wiggled her fingers to get the perplexed driver of a dinged blue pickup to roll down the window. She explained she was there to answer questions about the Affordable Care Act. The man mumbled a greeting, took the flier and quickly rolled up the window. “Next car!” Rascoe said. She felt lucky if she could persuade a driver to crack open the car window to take her card and a brochure. Some ignored her, a few listened politely. “I just smile and give them the information; sometimes a lightbulb goes off later and they call,” Rascoe said. One woman in a Chevy Bronco said she’d heard on the news that the website was down and no one could get enrolled. “Turn off the TV!” Rascoe chided. “Come down, and I’ll help you out.” The woman said she’d think about making an appointment.
times I have met a woman vet and she has told me, ‘When I got out of the military I didn’t know anything about the services that were available to me as a veteran or a female veteran,’ ” Garretson said. Experts say a female vet who has experienced military sexual trauma would certainly find the busy, male-dominated hallways of a VA facility difficult, if not impossible, to navigate. But even without that type of traumatic experience, others simply don’t feel comfortable. Inside a cheery Englewood library, Thresholds caseworker Shenetta Wilson, herself a vet, meets with client Francessca Phillips, 32, an Air Force vet and mother of two who has been homeless off and on over the past five years and suffered from depression after her service. Phillips, who returned in 2004, waited five years before going to the VA. She acknowledges she felt some bitterness about her service — she didn’t get along with her bosses. But she also said it never really occurred to her to seek services at the VA. And then once she did, there were leering men who called out remarks like, “Hey girl, hey hot thing.”
BRIAN BENNETT/LOS ANGELES TIMES/MCT
Quinetta Rascoe, center, helps distribute food to needy families, Nov. 12, in the parking lot of a local church in Murfreesboro, N.C. Rascoe is a certified application processor trained to help local residents sign up for subsidized health plans through Obamacare. qualifies for the health care exchanges or for other federal programs like Medicare or Medicaid. She also tells the customer about a program at the health clinic that offers discounted rates based on a patient’s income level. At the moment, Rascoe’s the only person at the clinic who is dedicated full time to signing people up for medical coverage. Local organizations across the state received a total of $7 million in federal grants to train and hire 300 Obamacare counselors. But beyond a two-day online training course, a stack of government-issued brochures, business cards and a cell phone provided by the health center, Rascoe is largely on her own to come up with ways to find the uninsured.
Money rejected It’s a stark difference from oth-
er states that are trying to bolster enrollment by launching their own websites and ad campaigns and enlisting state employees to help people find insurance. Instead, North Carolina rejected $23 million in federal money that could have been used to educate and assist more than a million uninsured in the state. It also turned away $4 billion in federal funds to expand the Medicaid program for the poor. Lack of awareness and bad press in North Carolina have made Rascoe’s attempts to enroll people more difficult. “I don’t feel that the law was designed for people to go sign up on a whim,” she said. “It takes education.” During October, the month the health care exchanges opened, about 1,600 people in North Carolina signed up for coverage — only 12 percent of the number officials expected, according to federal figures.
Though the work can be frustrating, Rascoe said, it still beats her last job as a debt collector. After spending six years telephoning the poorest families in the county to coax them into paying outstanding bills, she finds it more rewarding to help many of those same people find insurance that could save them hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars a year. Half of the families around here earn less than $31,000 a year, making Hertford one of the state’s poorest counties. It’s a region where during harvest time, the highway shoulders are dusted with white cotton bolls blown off tractors, and where, if residents aren’t farming the land, they’re working at the nearby steel mill, poultry plant or federal prison. The small towns around here were built more than 200 years ago in the boom days of cotton and tobacco and never got much bigger. Even fellow North Carolinians know the area mostly as a web of two-lane highways leading to the beaches of the Outer Banks. Rascoe’s grandfather was one of 10 children born on a small piece of land his family owned and farmed in Ahoskie. He fled Hertford County in the 1940s to find a job as a sanitation worker and started a family in New York City, where Rascoe was born to his only son. Rascoe’s family later moved to Pittsburgh so her brother, who had Kawasaki syndrome, could visit specialists at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, known for its treatment of the rare vascular disorder. She saw the expensive medical care strain her family’s finances. “This is personal for me,” Rascoe said.
DECEMBER 13 – DECEMBER 19, 2013
FINEST & ENTERTAINMENT
Meet some of
Viola Vantise is a graduate of Florida A&M’s School of Journalism & Graphic Communication. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of an online news and entertainment site- Viola’s Tea, which provides the latest information on entertainment, beauty, gossip, news and politics. She has also landed interviews with top stars Meagan Good and BET Networks’ ‘The Game’ costar Pooch Hall. Contact Viola at ViolaVantise@ gmail.com or www.ViolasTEA. com. CREDIT: Chief D
submitted for your approval
Think you’re one of Florida’s Finest? E-mail your high-resolution (200 dpi) digital photo in casual wear or bathing suit taken in front of a plain background with few distractions, to news@flcourier. com with a short biography of yourself and your contact information. (No nude/ glamour/ fashion photography, please!) In order to be considered, you must be at least 18 years of age. Acceptance of the photographs submitted is in the sole and absolute discretion of Florida Courier editors. We reserve the right to retain your photograph even if it is not published. If you are selected, you will be contacted by e-mail and further instructions will be given.
marc Marcus Herndon is a senior at Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, GA majoring in Mechanical Engineering. The 21-year-old has modeled for Urban Spice Magazine, various runway and fashion shows, the Bronner Bros. Hair Show, and for upcoming mainstream designer Rob Bennett. He wants to combine the worlds of engineering and entertainment and states that as an ambition. “As my favorite saying goes by Ghandhi, ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world.’” Contact Marc at www.facebook.com/marcus.herndon.7 or via e-mail at email@example.com. CREDIT: My Miracle Moments Photography
Elba drew strength from dad to portray Mandela really scared. I thought, ‘Oh, my God, if I mess this up, what the hell? I’ll never work again.’” A lot of his fears were laid to rest when he met Naomie Harris, who plays Mandela’s second wife, Winnie, the naïve young social worker who transforms into a defiant militant. “The on-screen chemistry was amazing,” said Elba. “I am looking at Winnie and Nelson, I am not looking at Naomie and I. The love feels so real.”
BY SUSAN KING LOS ANGELES TIMES/MCT
LOS ANGELES — British actor Idris Elba is having what he describes as a “beautiful moment” in his career. His off-screen life, though, is another story. This summer, Elba starred in Guillermo del Toro’s special-effects action thriller “Pacific Rim,” in which he transformed the rather moldy line, “We are canceling the apocalypse,” into something akin to Shakespeare. The third season of his acclaimed British detective series, “Luther,” for which he won a Golden Globe in 2012, recently aired on BBC America, and he’s reprising his role of Heimdall, the buff, Asgardian warrior-god gatekeeper, in “Thor: The Dark World.” And he’s garnering rave reviews — not to mention awards buzz — for his complex performance as the late Nelson Mandela, the legendary South African leader who helped end apartheid, in the new biographical drama “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.” But during a recent interview, the 41-year-old Elba admitted he’s “numb” to the attention and praise. “It’s weird at the moment,” the strikingly handsome actor said recently over lunch at the Mondrian hotel on Sunset Boulevard. “My dad died eight, nine weeks ago,” he said, quietly. “He was 76. He died of lung cancer. I am having to deal with grief and it has taken a profound effect on me.”
Similar cadence Elba doesn’t want to sound ungrateful for his professional good fortune. “I put on a smile, put on the suits and I go on the red carpet. I do the work, and I’m doing it because that is what my old man would want me to do. He was very proud of me.” The actor, who is an only child, used his father, Winston, as the basis for his performance. His father immigrated to London from Sierra Leone; his mother, Eva, is from Ghana. Though from different African countries, Elba said, his father and Mandela had the same cadence in their speech. There were other similarities in their behav-
Spent night at Robbie Island
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY/MCT
Idris Elba portrays Nelson Mandela in “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.” iors, from the way they crossed their legs to holding their fingers while talking, which helped him immeasurably in bringing Mandela to life. “My dad had a big silver ball of hair and Mandela has that, so that was my framework,” he said.
Moonlights as deejay Elba, who exudes as much charisma in person as he does on screen, made his first impression on American audiences in 2002 with his explosive performance as Stringer Bell, the aspirational second-in-command to a Baltimore drug kingpin in HBO’s award-winning series “The Wire.” Over the last decade, the actor has appeared in numerous films and TV series including NBC’s “The Office” (he played a rival to Steve Carell’s regional manager), the 2007 Tyler Perry melodrama “Daddy’s Little Girls,” as well as Ridley Scott’s 2007 “American Gangster” and 2012’s “Prometheus.”
He’s also moonlights as a DJ. “I am hired specifically for my hard, progressive house music,” said Elba. “It’s so different from this world. Nobody cares about who I am when I am out playing the music. It really grounds me. It’s a side of my creativity I can’t let go of.” A singer and songwriter, Elba just recorded an album in South Africa inspired by his experience making the movie in the country. “I call it character music,” Elba said. “It’s the first time of really marrying what I do in the film with the music.”
young to play the role, “I am actually four shades too dark,” said Elba. But director Justin Chadwick had an instinct about Elba. “He’s a subtle actor that totally inhabits a role,” said Chadwick in an email. “The producers had imagined I’d cast a Hollywood star, but I loved that Idris carried no baggage into whatever role he plays. We weren’t going for a look-alike version, but wanted to catch the spirit of the man.” Elba, Chadwick added, “is a true gentle man, very warm and generous. He is also fearless. And that’s how people described Mandela the young man to me.”
Captures Mandela’s spirit
At first, Idris, who plays Mandela from his 20s through his late 70s, was reluctant to take on the role of the lawyer and antiapartheid activist, who spent 27 years in prison before becoming the country’s first democratically elected president. Not only did he feel he was too
The actor recalls talking to Chadwick about the role while he was filming “Pacific Rim” in Toronto. “He sat with me, watched me work and we talked and talked,” said Elba in his strong British working-class accent. “I started to warm up to the idea. But I was
Though he never got to meet the 95-year-old Mandela, who died Dec. 5, Elba has become close to his family. At the premiere last month in South Africa, Mandela’s daughter Zinzdi even said to him, “Come here, Dad,” so they could pose together for photos. Elba insisted that he spend a night in one of the dehumanizing small cells on Robben Island, where Mandela spent 18 years in prison. It is now a museum. The officials turned him down several times. Frustrated, Elba even contemplated getting into a brawl in a bar so he could spend the night in jail. But finally, the Robben Island officials allowed him to stay in a “punishment” cell. “When you are locked in the room you are powerless,” said Elba. “I was lucky I only had 24 hours. But it just put it into context and what his frame of mind was to have endured for that long of time.”
‘He became Mandela’ Chadwick said he always knew that Elba would be “brilliant” as the young Mandela. “It was the older, more recognizable Mandela that was the challenge that we had to catch.” Because the indie film didn’t have deep financial pockets, “we had to be canny with our resources ... we had to shoot totally out of sequence,” said Chadwick. In fact, in one day Elba had to do a quick transformation from a 40-year-old Mandela to the elderly man in his 70s. “His walk and his body language was breathtaking,” said Chadwick. “He became Mandela.”
Sweet IDEAS FOR THE
DECEMBER 6 – DECEMBER 12, 2013
Host a holiday bash with simple delicious treats
BY GEORGEA KOVANIS DETROIT FREE PRESS/MCT
wanted to have a holiday gathering but didn’t have a lot of time to prep, plan or prepare. So what did we do? Well, we considered a cookie exchange — food, drink and lots of cookies to share. But several of our friends don’t bake. Or don’t have time to bake. And the holiday season is about inclusion, rather than exclusion. Keeping that in mind, we channeled Julie Andrews, our inspiration for everything in life, and decided to turn our party into a favorite (edible) things party! Homemade cookies? Sure. Pillsbury slice-and-bake cookies? No complaints here! White chocolate bark with pretzels (super simple and super quick)? Absolutely! Buttery caramel corn, cheese spread and crackers, bottles of olive oil and wine and — ha-ha — munch, munch more? Yes, yes, yes! The object of the party remains the same as a cookie exchange: to have fun together and share. Guests bring enough of their treats so everyone invited to the party plus the hostess gets several packages/boxes/bags/tins of holiday happiness. Also: Don’t forget to bring some extra to add to the party’s treats buffet. Because the Julie Andrews song, “My Favorite Things,” inspired our party, we thought it only fitting that our decorations include brown paper packages tied up with string, mittens, roses, snowflakes, blue satin sashes — OK, they’re really paper runners, but the impact is pretty much the same. We think. In fact, easy peasy is one of our favorite things.
CUT-OUT COOKIES Makes: about 5 dozen depending on shape and size Preparation time: 45 minutes plus chilling time Total time: 1 hour plus cooling time 1 cup margarine or unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened 1 cup sugar 2 large eggs, yolks and whites separated 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 3 cups all-purpose flour 1/8 teaspoon baking powder 1/8 teaspoon salt Desired colors of sanding sugar In large bowl with mixer at low speed, beat the margarine or butter with 1 cup sugar until blended, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula. Increase speed to high; beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. At low speed, beat in the egg yolks and vanilla until blended. Gradually beat in flour, baking powder and salt. Shape dough into 2 balls, flatten each slightly. Wrap each ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour or until firm enough to roll. (We didn’t wrap in plastic wrap, mainly because we find plastic wrap unwieldly. We just left the dough in the bowl and put it in the fridge.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Between 2 sheets of floured waxed paper, roll half of dough 1/8-inch thick, keeping remaining dough refrigerated. With floured 2-inch cookie cutters, cut out as many cookies as possible. Place cookies about ½-inch apart on an ungreased large baking sheet. (We used parchment paper.) Reserve trimmings to reroll and cut out more cookies.
In a cup, with fork, beat egg whites slightly. With pastry brush, brush cookies with egg white then sprinkle sanding sugar (the more colors, the merrier the cookies). Bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until cookies are lightly browned. Remove the cookies to wire rack to cool. Cook’s note: The original recipe makes about 5 dozen sandwich cookies, filled with jam. We made flat, larger single cookies, not sandwiches, and ended up with 4 dozen to 5 dozen cookies. Adapted from “Good Housekeeping Best Recipes 1998” (William Morrow, used copies available at www.amazon.com ).
Creative buffet spread A buffet spread features cookies, candy (including chocolate truffles from Trader Joe’s) nuts, white chocolate-and- pretzel bark, peppermint bark. And the decorations include silver snowflakes (suspended from the ceiling), a vase of dollar store jingle bells and a vintage-looking tree we’ve had in our attic for eons. Other options • Chocolate chip bars are quick and so much easier than cookies. Just make your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and spread it into any size sheet pan. Cranberry shortbread cookies are buttery delicious and festive. We’ve included the recipe. • A bottle of olive oil dressed in a scarf and hat, pasta, homemade jam, packaged cookies and caramel corn are some of our favorite things. • White chocolate bark with pretzels is the easiest thing in the world to make. We melted a 12-ounce package of Ghirardelli’s white chocolate melting wafers in the microwave, spread it out on a parchment-lined baking sheet, topped it with a bunch of pretzels and some sprinkles and popped it in the freezer to set. After that, we broke the bark into shards and voila: impressive looking candy! (We did the same thing with peppermint bark, only we stirred in some crushed candy canes and added some more for topping.) • Maybe the easiest cookie ever! We made Pillsbury Refrigerated Cookie Dough sugar cookies and when they cooled, dipped them in chocolate and sprinkled them with Heath Bits ’O Brickle Toffee Bits. One of the keys to making cookies look their best is to pay attention to packaging. We love these carry-out container-type boxes. (Look for them at Target.) • Cut-out cookies are not only festive, they’re less complicated than most because you don’t need to frost them. Before you put them in the oven, brush the top of each cookie with egg white and sprinkle with colorful sugar and sparkles.
CRANBERRY SHORTBREAD COOKIES Makes: 6 dozen cookies Preparation time: 30 minutes Total time: 45 minutes plus cooling time If you’re looking to make cranberry shortbread cookies, have we got a recipe for you! 1 1/4 cups butter, softened 1 cup powdered sugar 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 1 package (5-ounce) Craisins dried cranberries (or other dried cranberries), chopped Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in the flour, a little at a time, until combined. Stir in dried cranberries. Cookies can be made into balls or flattened. To make round
cookies, roll dough into 1-inch balls. Place 1 dozen at a time on ungreased or parchmentlined baking sheets. (Note: we lined our sheets with parchment paper for ultra-easy cleanup.) Bake 15 to 17 minutes. Remove from oven; cool slightly and dust with additional powdered sugar. To make flat cookies, form dough into 1-inch balls as directed above. Using the bottom of a glass dipped in granulated sugar, flatten balls on a baking sheet, making rounds 2-inches in diameter. (We sprinkled these with sanding sugar to give them sparkle.) Bake 12 to 14 minutes. Cool. Cook’s note: For orangeflavored cookies, use Craisins Orange Flavor Dried Cranberries and 2 teaspoons grated orange peel.