Nelson Mandela: Icon for JusticeDecember 6, 2013
“Out of an experience of an extraordinary human disaster that lasted too long, must be born a society of which all humanity will be proud…We pledge ourselves to liberate all of our people from the continuing bondage of poverty, deprivation, suffering, gender and other discrimination… The sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement.” (Nelson Mandela, May 10, 1994 at his inauguration as President of South Africa)
Throughout the next week I will be writing on this blog about Nelson Mandela and his impact on our global village. What are your reflections on his great legacy? Please share them by clicking on the “comments” link below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will post your comments.
Listen to Trinity Alumna Amy Costello ’92 give a report on Mandela’s life for NPR
Reflections from the Trinity community:
“As I write, I cry not for his loss, but out of joy for his choosing to be of good courage, to exercise his intelligence and wisdom, and most of all, execute humility. Countless times, I heard, read, and seen footage about Mr. Mandela’s journey and the three decades of imprisonment of which he lived. Sometimes, my silent responses would entail anger and frustration and an eagerness to curse his captors but as I matured, I was reminded of Paul the Apostle and his letter about joy, hope, and love that he wrote while in prison. Mr. Mandela emulated Paul and he symbolized God’s glory in the most profound manner. I will forever be convicted to forgive and to love despite whatever obstacles I face and I pray, that many others will live Mr. Mandela’s legacy as well.” (Kyndra Fuller, Class 2015, Human Relations, School of Professional Studies)
“I remember in the 9th grade I did a summer reading assignment on Nelson Mandela’s wife. While reading that book I learned so much about his life through her story. Nelson Mandela was a very powerful man. He preached acceptance and understanding of each other as a whole regardless of color, social status, and religion. He truly wanted all people treated equally and with respect. His legacy of greatness and being humble will live on forever. He will truly be missed by this world!” (Shade’ Coleman, Class of 2015, SPS, MSA in Human Resource Management, Allied Barton Site Supervisor)
“I had the opportunity to meet Nelson Mandela on a trip to South Africa with President Bill Clinton. Staff was given the opportunity to meet with Mandela and pose for pictures with him. For me, it was the highlight of the trip. I would describe him as “grace walking the planet.” He was so tall and his smile lit up his face like sunshine. Being in the same room with him was one of those moments when you know you are in the presence of greatness and I was blessed to be able to shake his hand.” (Dr. Peggy Lewis, Class of 1977, Assistant Professor and Director of Media Studies, SPS)
“Yesterday we lost a remarkable leader. Nelson Mandela was a beautiful example of a life filled with humility, compassion and grace. He taught us to be kind to one another and to find the good in every situation no matter how difficult. His words inspire me and resonate in my daily life … ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world’.” (Dr. Karen L. Gerlach, Vice President for Student Affairs)
“In 1986 or ’87 (I’d have to dig out the arrest warrant to be sure) I made a fast and perhaps rash decision to participate in civil disobedience in protest of apartheid, which led to my one serious encounter with our justice system – if justice is the right word. For many in my generation, Mandela was a true hero – a leader who inspired direct action in the worldwide struggle for justice and peace. He was our Martin Luther King – we who were still small when MLK was killed and who could not yet have fully appreciated those times and struggles. Agitating for Nelson Mandela’s freedom, and the end of apartheid, became an important focal point in the justice and peace consciousness of so many movements of the 1980′s and 1990′s when we, young activists, came into our own. The global importance of his sacrifices and his suffering cannot be overemphasized – we had such a clear sense of right and wrong about his actions, the actions of the South African powers, and the actions of our own government.
“So motivated and inspired, we headed to the protest that day planning to raise our fists and our placards and sing a few protest songs – “Free Nelson Mandela” and “We Shall Overcome”. Quickly, the climate changed: we faced an army of police officers deployed to contain our right of free assembly. Seasoned activists began on-the-spot training for those willing to be arrested in mass civil disobedience action. We did not take this lightly – an arrest is, after all, an arrest, and we were scared of what might happen once loaded onto the police trucks. But Nelson Mandela was in prison! Surely the best way to show solidarity was to follow directly in his footsteps? Would we really risk that action? My friends and I made a split second decision, took the quick training (mostly how not to get hurt while being handcuffed), and stepped out into the street to take our tiny place in history. Hundreds were arrested that day.
“In the end, the incredible happened: Mandela released, the apartheid system dismantled, his Presidency – the Presidency of our own Barack Obama. It takes a village to change the world, and the total impact of each tiny individual contribution is certainly greater than the sum of its parts. Great individuals like Mandela – Gandhi, MLK – inspire these contributions; each one of us, acting righteously, can truly change our world. Though I never met Mandela, I feel personally connected to him for the positive impact he had in my own formative development and the betterment of the world we will also someday leave behind.” (Dr. Carlota Ocampo, Associate Dean, CAS, and Associate Professor of Psychology)
“If only we each can genuinely and actively love–even on a small scale–our neighbors and countrymen as Mr. Mandela, we’d all have such peace and beauty within and around us. He had such compassion, courage, intelligence, strength, and patience. I am asking God to help me to care more deeply and more often through my speech and deeds to exhibit that kind of love. I do thank him for how he lived and thank his family for sharing him with the world.” (Anonymous)
“I feel honored to be invited to share sentiments about Nelson Madiba Mandela because I come from the Southern Region of Africa (Zambia). My country served as a safe haven for members of the African National Congress (ANC), a political party that Mandela helped to found. As such Zambia and South Africa share very close relations. Although I’m saddened by the loss of such a great hero like Mandela, it is comforting that we all as human beings can always look up to his legacy and draw some very valuable life’s lessons. Sleep, sleep in Eternal Peace Papa Mandela, for you have run the race and you have fought the good fight. Nkosi Sikelela (God Bless)!” (Charity Mambwe, School of Professional Studies, MSA program (Community & Public Health), Class of 2014)Read comments (1) Add Comment
Trinity Gives ThanksNovember 27, 2013
Happy Thanksgiving! This is the time of year when we pause to reflect on the many blessings we share together in our lives and work at Trinity. I give thanks for the gift of our amazing students, devoted faculty and staff, generous benefactors and so many great friends in the Washington community. The short video above is a reflection on the joys and gratitude we share in this community.
Members of the Trinity Community have shared these reflections on this season:
“The etymology of the word “gratitude” comes from the words for “grace”, “praise”, “welcome”, and “sacrifice” in several different ancient languages. I try to remember each of these layers of meaning as I give thanks for beautiful friends, family, and companions; interesting work; benevolent colleagues; and vibrant, frank, and courageous students.” – Nelly Lambert, Visiting Assistant Professor of English
“This has been a very rewarding first semester for me here at Trinity DC University. I am so very thankful to be back in college and taking classes at Trinity at THEARC. It has been 50 years since I graduated from high school! My story is long with the ins and outs of marriage, divorce, working, parenting and eldercare, and I won’t go into details here. I just want to let you know that I am thankful that we have the undergraduate program in Southeast DC to meet the special needs of students like me. Happy Thanksgiving to you and the faculty, especially those at THEARC.” – Marilyn Greene, student at THEARC
“I am grateful for the Trinity traditions of service and social justice and the sense of community at Trinity. The demands of graduate school and work are supported in this community of strong women and men.” – Cathy Ellis, graduate student
“I am thankful for many things; for my husband and my oldest sister who are still here after five years of dealing with a chronic lung disease and cancer, respectively; my four adult children who are progressing toward their goals; my two granddaughters, ages 3 and 5, who continue to amaze me; and for those who support and encourage me through my life’s journey. I am extremely thankful for my Trinity University family of faculty and friends, many of whom I still stay in contact with since I became a returning college student in the Fall of 2011. Most importantly, I am thankful and grateful for the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; my salvation.” – Martina Coates-Nance, undergraduate student
“In my life often my thanks comes from awareness of what God has blessed me with presently, and over the years…but since coming to Trinity my thanks so often focuses on what God has been doing in the lives of those students I am privileged to meet every day through Campus Ministry. This year I am grateful for students who weekly give of their time and talents in service at the Capital Area Food Bank or Christ House and will spend a week in Selma, Alabama, for students who share their spirituality in the Gospel Choir or in stop-in conversations about some struggle in their lives, for Trinity students who go out of their way to hold a door and say “how are you,” and for our students who keep the vision of making a difference in the world alive in their hearts and on our campus. The ongoing mission of Trinity is alive and well, and for this I am thankful.” - Sister Mary Ellen Dow, S.N.D., Director of Campus Ministry
This year I give thanks in a very special way to the extraordinary benefactors whose great acts of charity make it possible for Trinity to sustain this vital mission in education. The great gifts of Joan Payden, Barbara and John Glynn, Jurate Kazickas and Roger Altman, the Moran Family Foundation, Joanne and Bill Conway and the Bedford Falls Foundation, and so many others have made it possible for Trinity to move from dreams to reality in planning our new academic center and providing even greater scholarship support for our students. Thanks to our thousands of alumnae and countless friends and partners in the community for your affirming support. Thank you!
I also always give thanks for the great dedication of our faculty and staff who make Trinity’s mission come alive every single day. Our colleagues choose to work at Trinity because of the deep meaning and great fulfillment they find in working with our amazing students. Thanks to all for your hard work every single day!
Students are the reason we are here, and I am so grateful to our students for keeping us on our toes each day! Trinity students in each generation reflect Trinity’s values in remarkable ways. Thank you to our students for giving us 2,500 reasons to do an even better job every day!
May everyone have a truly delightful Thanksgiving. Thanks for being part of Trinity!
What is your reflection on gratitude in this season? Add your comment below or email your message to email@example.com and I will add it to this blog.
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Trinity Gospel Choir Rocks Notre Dame Chapel!November 24, 2013
Many thanks to the Trinity Gospel Choir for kicking-off the holiday season with a wonderful concert on Friday night in Notre Dame Chapel. Enjoy a few clips from their joyful music on the video above.
This week as we celebrate Thanksgiving, I invite members of the Trinity family to share your thoughts on giving thanks. Send me a note (firstname.lastname@example.org) or make a comment by clicking the link below and I will share your reflections on my Thanksgiving Blog coming later this week.
Meanwhile, please join me in thanking the Trinity Gospel Choir, the Choir Director Mr. Ron Cromwell from St. Augustine’s, the musicians, the choir members, and Campus Minister Sister Mary Ellen Dow. What a great way to start our season of giving thanks!Read comments (0) Add Comment
JFK: What He Did For His CountryNovember 21, 2013
President and Mrs. Kennedy Arrive in Dallas, November 22, 1963
Cecil Stoughton. White House Photographs.
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston
November 22, 1963.
Each generation lays claim to shattering dates that “changed everything” or so it seemed in the moment. We remember September 11, 2001 with fresh horror each year when we see those burning towers all over again. Our parents and grandparents tell us what it was like on December 7, 1941, when Pearl Harbor entered the national imagination as ground zero of World War II, the “…date which will live in infamy.”
November 22, 1963 is the date the Baby Boomers remember with relentless precision and endless fascination. “Where were you when Kennedy was shot?” is the question that never grows old no matter that half a century has now intervened. We’ve been talking about John Fitzgerald Kennedy for longer than he lived. Why do we keep coming back to the icon, the image, the myth and mystery of JFK?
(See Trinity’s website “Trinity Remembers JFK” with alumnae videos)
My brother John wrote yesterday that, “It’s extremely alarming to be talking knowledgeably about something that happened fifty years ago.” When we were kids in 1963, “50 years ago” would have been 1913 — before our parents were even born! Before World War I!! And yet we Boomers go on about things that happened 50 years ago as if they are still quite current. Is this just narcissism or is there genuine meaning in our preoccupation with the Kennedy mystique?
President Kennedy’s brief 1,000 days in office is a bright chalkstripe across American cultural history. The impact of the Kennedy years was less about political achievements, which were modest during his three year tenure, and more about social change and human advancement, which was huge. In his inauguration address, JFK captured the essence of generational change when he declared:
“Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans—born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage—and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.”
Presidents Kennedy and Eisenhower, 1961
Robert Knudsen. White House Photographs. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston
“Born in this century” was a riveting concept for a president in 1961 when Kennedy was inaugurated. All of his predecessors were born in the 19th Century, stalwart men who epitomized the mindsets and traditions of the ruling classes of the early 20th Century. Truth be told, John F. Kennedy was a son of precisely the same mindsets and traditions, perhaps more so because of his great family wealth. But his youth (he was just 43 when elected president), superficial appearance of vigor (he suffered chronic illness, but like President Franklin Roosevelt, he found ways to hide it from the public), and glamorous style (carried so well by Jackie Kennedy) proved a sharp contrast to the older, staid image of his immediate predecessor President Dwight Eisenhower. And while his opponent in the 1960 election Richard Nixon was only four years older, Nixon’s personal appearance and personality made him seem much older and more sedate than the charming, witty, urbane Jack Kennedy.
Dinner for the President of the Ivory Coast and Madame Houphouet-Boigny, 1962
Photograph by Robert Knudsen, White House, in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.
Kennedy thought big and spoke boldly, and in his large view of the American agenda at the threshold of the 1960′s burst forth with powerful optimism and unyielding conviction in the belief that America was the best, brightest hope for all people on earth. Today some critics would probably denounce his inauguration speech as a good example of “American exceptionalism,” but in 1960, with the flames of Old Europe still dying down and the long gray days of the Cold War settling in, Kennedy was a startling flash of light offering a glimpse into a much better future.
President Kennedy at a News Conference, 1962
(When was the last time a president had fun at a news conference?)
Photograph by Abbie Rowe, National Park Service, in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston
Students of history certainly can find failure, frustration and fear in Kennedy’s three years in office. The Berlin Wall went up, a totalitarian gash across the fragile post-World War II peace. The Cuban Missile Crisis brought the United States to the brink of nuclear disaster; but the threat abated thanks in large measure to the rational steely-eyed resolve of Kennedy and his team to find a way to keep the peace. Knowing all that we know today about the follies of the CIA and the intelligence community, we can understand the Bay of Pigs disaster as something much larger and more insidious than a presidential misjudgment. In the same way, as a result of inept intelligence work, the assassination of the Diem brothers in Vietnam triggered the escalation of that war shortly before Kennedy’s own assassination.
But domestically, President Kennedy was laying the foundation for some of the greatest triumphs in American history. He would not live to see the passage of the Civil Rights Act, but his philosophical and political commitments to human rights and civil rights paved the way for President Lyndon B. Johnson to achieve enactment of that legislation. He created the Peace Corps, one of the best and most enduring legacies of the Kennedy Era to the world. He pushed NASA and the space program to work toward the goal of landing a man on the moon by the end of the decade, an achievement he did not live to see. The space program spawned countless innovations and advancements that benefit contemporary life in so many ways. His election also brought Catholics in from the political margins, signalling the hope of a political time when people with different characteristics might join the ruling class.
Perhaps most important, President Kennedy enlarged the national imagination, expanded our world view and made it acceptable to be an idealist when thinking about the purpose of government.
On November 22, 1963, I was sitting in a fifth grade classroom at St. Margaret’s School in Narberth, Pennsylvania. We noticed the sisters whispering on the corridor, and then we said prayers, and school was dismissed early. As we trudged in our lines down Essex Avenue, I heard a boy somewhere in the back of the line say, “President Kennedy was shot!”
I could not believe what he said. I stopped by the soda fountain at Davis’s 5&10 (now Mapes) and listened as the radio announcer said that President Kennedy was shot in Dallas. Everyone was solemn.
I walked home and found the boys already there watching TV. Mom was very upset. She said the president was dead. What I remember most is how upset she was even though she and Dad were stalwart Republicans and really didn’t like President Kennedy. But they were Americans first, and they knew that the assassination was a time of grave danger for the nation and a great tragedy for the Kennedy family and all who knew him. Uncharacteristically, they let us watch television nonstop for the next four days.
Top: President Kennedy’s coffin removed from the planeBottom: President Johnson takes oath of office on the plane back from Dallas
with Jackie Kennedy beside him (right) and Lady Bird Johnson (left)
Cecil Stoughton. White House Photographs.
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston
By the time the president’s plane landed in Washington that night, President Lyndon B. Johnson had taken charge. I remember watching as Mrs. Kennedy emerged from the back end of the plane with her husband’s casket. This was all in black and white, and long silences filled the screen as we watched dimly lit images. There was something so simple and poignant about watching history on television in the days before we had so many talking heads and screaming counterpoints and endless cuts to interviews with more talking heads. From a television perspective, the best part of those four days was the simplicity and respectfulness of the coverage, something every producer today should study.
President Kennedy lit up a pathway to change and growth for our nation. He did so with wit, grace, style and steel when necessary. He was not perfect, but he knew how to be a leader when it counted. Our national quest to reignite that spark continues.
Abbie Rowe. White House Photographs.
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston
When JFK Called Trinity Alumnae to ServiceNovember 17, 2013
(Then-Senator John F. Kennedy, right, with John M. Bailey and Barbara Bailey Kennelly
at the Class of 1958 Commencement, photo from Trinity Archives)
“I would urge …each of you, regardless of your chosen occupation, consider entering the field of politics at some stage in your career….. Our political leaders must be drawn from the ranks of our most capable, dedicated citizens, regardless of sex…. This is a great institution of learning, Trinity College. Its establishment and continued functioning, like that of all great colleges and universities, has required considerable effort and expenditure. I cannot believe that all of this was undertaken merely to give the school’s graduates an economic advantage in the life struggle. …we stand in serious need of the fruits of your education. …I strongly urge the application of your talents to the public solution of great problems of our time…” (Senator John F. Kennedy, Commencement Address at Trinity College, June 2, 1958)
Long before President John Fitzgerald Kennedy became famous for challenging the nation to, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” he challenged Trinity students to become politically engaged. We may think that the current political era is the first time ever that people have felt alienated from government and disgusted with politics. But across our nation’s history, each political era presented its own frustrations, scandals, setbacks and disappointments. Senator Kennedy’s message that day to Trinity’s Class of 1958 was not that they should aspire for fame or power or great reward for political engagement, but rather, that they had an obligation because of their great education to step up to the challenge of governance on behalf of society.
“It is not necessary that you be famous, that you effect radical changes in the government, or that you are acclaimed by the public for your efforts. It is not even necessary that you be successful. I ask only that you offer to the political arena, and to the critical problems of our society which are decided therein, the benefit of the talents which society has helped to develop in you. … The question now is … whether you are to give to the world in which you were reared and educated the broadest possible benefits of that education.” (Senator Kennedy, Trinity 1958 Commencement)
Perhaps it is not at all coincidental that some of Trinity’s most notable alumnae in politics heard Kennedy’s call to action and chose to devote themselves to the hard tasks of political life. Barbara Bailey Kennelly ’58, pictured above with her father John Bailey who became chairman of the Democratic National Committee when Kennedy became president, became Trinity’s first alumna in Congress, serving from 1982 to 1999. We know her today around campus as Professor Kennelly, teaching Political Science students the wonders of modern legislative and governmental processes. She remains a great model of political engagement, recently traveling with the State Department on a diplomatic mission to Sierra Leone.
Following Congresswoman Kennelly’s footsteps, Nancy D’Alesandro Pelosi ’62 started her illustrious Congressional career in 1987, eventually rising to become the first woman ever to be Speaker of the House, and now Democratic Leader. When she was a Trinity student, she actively campaigned for Candidate John F. Kennedy in his presidential race in 1960 (see Nancy below, center right, holding the Kennedy photo with her classmate Ciel Lynett Haggerty ’62).
Over the years, numerous Trinity Women entered state and local politics, went to law school and became advocates and judges advancing civil rights and equal justice, served as staff to numerous political and advocacy organizations, and volunteered for civic causes across the spectrum of political commitment. Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Green Partiers, Tea Partiers —- whatever the cause of political point of view, Trinity graduates are engaged and vocal about advancing the best possible service to our society.
This week as we commemorate the 50th Anniversary of that dreadful day when Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK, let’s not dwell too much on that sorrow of that moment, but rather, on the triumph of American democracy. Even in our darkest moments as a society — and those awful days in November 1963 were very dark and treacherous moments —- we have shown resilience, purpose and vision in coming together as a self-governing people to advance the common good.
In these days so full of acerbic political rhetoric and deeply entrenched ideologies that seem to stymie any rational governmental actions, let’s also remember JFK’s call to a higher vision of service, a sense of purposefulness that was not about clinging to one radical point of view, but rather, trying to do the best for all people in the nation. JFK was young and liberal, but he was no ideologue. Many politicians have tried to claim his mantle since then, but almost none have succeeded in bringing people together in the same way.
Perhaps this week all of our political leaders can contemplate what makes President Kennedy such an appealing figure even today, 50 years after his death. He brought a fresh new style of leadership and governance to Washington, enlightened but not arrogant, purposeful but not dictatorial, maintaining a sense of humor and grace even in the face of contentious political conditions. He had a real zest for being president, and a way of touching the people that won hearts and minds. We could use a healthy dose of such transcendent personal style right now, on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.Read comments (0) Add Comment