BOSTON (CBS) – Nelson Mandela’s visit to Boston in June of 1990 was a whirlwind that attracted thousands at every stop. When he took to the stage at Madison Park High School in Roxbury the crowd was eager for his words of wisdom.
“The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow,” he told them. Celestino DePina was a 16-year-old sophomore in the gymnasium that day and took it to heart. Mandela’s speech was a turning point in his life, and now he is a history teacher at Brighton High School. “At the time a chord struck in my head. To this day I try to instill the same concepts in my students,” he said. “He paved the way for others and the cycle can continue if you want to have a better world.”
Longtime Boston activist and former State Representative Mel King introduced Mandela at the Esplanade before a crowd of about 300,000. “Looking out, the spirit, the collective high, it was all there,” said King.
Mandela was freed from 27 years in prison just a few months before his Boston visit. At the time it was a city not known for racial harmony. But King says Mandela’s message drew everyone together. King says, “It was a way of getting folks to understand that in struggle there’s a way to win.”
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