Highlights of Mandela's Visit

Highlights of Mandela's Visit (1990)
Duration: 00:53:01

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Themes: Leadership | Africa and African-Americans |

Guests: Margaret Baylor, Paul Hubbard, Susan Watson, Nelson Mandela, Emery King
Host : Trudy Gallant
Producer : Gerald Smith, James Jackson, Trudy Gallant

Summary: Nelson Mandela made a triumphal visit to the United States in June 1990, after his release from twenty-seven years' imprisonment in South Africa. It was a visit that brought a tremendous outpouring of emotion at every stop, especially, but not exclusively, from African Americans.

The visit prompted a special hour-long broadcast of Detroit Black Journal. Hosted by Trudy Gallant, the program presented video highlights from most of Mandela's tour stops, especially Detroit. The show included interviews with organizers of the Detroit visit as well as Detroit journalists who followed his tour around the country.

The program begins with a background report on Nelson Mandela by James Jackson that features historical footage related to Mandela's life and political experiences in South Africa. After a brief background report on the African National Congress by Gerald Smith, the show highlights Mandela's arrival in Detroit, his visit to a Ford Motor Co. plant in Dearborn, and an evening rally held at Tiger Stadium in downtown Detroit. At the auto plant, Mandela receives a union cap and jacket from UAW President Owen Bieber. Mandella is cheered when he tells the workers: "Sisters and brothers, friends and comrades, the man who is speaking is not a stranger here. The man who is speaking is a member of the UAW. I am your flesh and blood."

In one of the more dramatic moments at the evening rally, Mandela receives an ovation when he describes the circumstances in South Africa in the words of song by Motown music star Marvin Gaye: "Brother, brother, there's far too many of you dying. Mother, mother there's far too many of you crying."

Gallant talks first with the vice chairs of the local Mandela Steering Committee. The committee coordinated Mandela's visit to Detroit and worked to raise money from the event for social programs in South Africa. Margaret Baylor, president of the Detroit chapter of TransAfrica, and Paul Hubbard, former president of New Detroit Inc. and future mayoral candidate, say that the Detroit response to Mandela's visit was outstanding and raised over $1 million.

The majority of the program consists of a discussion between Gallant and two prominent Detroit journalists: Susan Watson, a columnist with the Detroit Free Press, and Emery King, an anchor for WDIV-TV. Both had followed Mandela on his tour and the discussion intersperses their reflections with video clips of Mandela's appearances.

Among the more notable points was the emotion that both Watson and King acknowledge feeling during the tour. Watson says she was most moved by Mandela's arrival in New York, connecting as it did Africa and America.

"When he put his foot down, its true, I was crying," she says. "Tears were coming down one side of my face and they were tears of joy and tears of sorrow and tears of pain, and just this whole maelstrom of emotions. And the other side was dry because I had to take notes."

The program is a valuable overview of Mandela's visit to the United States and the warm and emotional response he received.

Related Production Materials held at MSU Libraries, Special Collections:
Box 8, File 33, South Africa – April 20, 1994 – Show # 2528