“In the first page of my book I say that I am South African. If I must be classified by color, then I am black“. These were the first words spoken by Eddie Daniels, a man who had been incarcerated on Robben Island for fifteen years alongside Nelson Mandela, after joining the Liberal Party (a party that catered to all races) and protesting the oppression and injustice of the apartheid regime.
As I sat in the audience listening to Mr. Daniels, I couldn’t help but to feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude toward Union. That the faculty and staff of Union could come together to create a program in which brilliant people such as Eddie Daniels could stand in front of us and speak directly to the student body, was incredible.
As the program moved forward, it was immediately apparent that Eddie was a beautiful storyteller. He spoke fondly of Nelson Mandela, and within an hour, was able to take us through the experiences that he went through while imprisoned and the way in which it affected him. He stated firmly, “Skin color does not reflect integrity or dignity or passion“.
After the forum from 3-4 o’clock, I was able to meet Mr. Daniels in a more intimate setting with about six other students. It was really incredible to see Mr. Daniels speak so candidly about his experiences and to tell us about the important lessons that he learned throughout life. One thing that he stressed is that education is crucial. He reiterated that point numerous times – “Education is a must.”
All in all, I felt very blessed that I was able to have such a great experience and I look forward to the Presidential Forums on Diversity to come.