COUNCIL SPEAKER PETER F. VALLONE AND MAYOR DAVID DINKINS (BACK TO CAMERA) WELCOME NELSON MANDELA, JUNE 20, 1990. MANDELA MADE A 12-DAY TOUR OF THE U.S. AFTER BEING FREED FROM 27 YEARS OF IMPRISONMENT IN SOUTH AFRICA.
Steven A. Levine
Coordinator for Educational Programs
As we sadly observe the passing of Nelson Mandela, I thought it an appropriate time to look at his connection to New York City through some of the Archives’ documents. The documents show that in the 1980s and early 1990s, when the brutal apartheid government continued to imprison Mandela and his comrades on Robben Island; New York City, in response to activism from anti-racist and labor organizations, took strong stands against the apartheid government of South Africa.
In 1984 New York City passed economic sanctions against South Africa and the banks and companies that did business with it, and named the corner of 42nd St and Second Avenue, in front of the South African U.N. mission “Nelson and Winnie Mandela Corner.” When Nelson Mandela was finally released from prison in 1990, he was given a hero’s welcome, highlighted by a ticker tape parade, an ecumenical service at Riverside Church, and a huge rally at Yankee Stadium, an inspiring moment I was fortunate enough to attend.
Even after South Africa released Mandela in 1990, the City Council continued to support local sanctions and the need to “impress upon the Congress of the United States the need to continue economic and political sanctions against the government of South Africa until freedom and equality are established for all.”
I hope you will take the time to look at the documents. If you are interested in learning more about Nelson Mandela’s visit to NYC or about its connection to the South African freedom struggle, please don’t hesitate to contact me.