SOT New Haven

SOT New Haven
SOT New Haven and their Circle of Mentors

Thursday, December 5, 2013


By Carla Morrison
Often I feel the spirit of our ancestors speaking to me to act; however, I’m often in limbo on how to channel my actions to be most effective with real change. Will it be through my writing ability, my public relations efforts or my community/youth engagement?

Last night, I attended the pre-screening of the film “Mandela” Long Walk to Freedom, played by Idris Elba, who did a dynamic job, as did Naomie Harris, who played the role of Winnie Mandela. 
The film really moved me in a way that woke me up in the middle of the night thinking about Nelson Mandela’s life work and that of Winnie Mandela. At that time, I said to myself, “I’m going to write an article on this movie” and I then began thinking about my in-direct connection to such a rich history.  I didn’t think by the time I would actually sit down and begin writing the piece, Nelson Mandela would have passed on….

I saw and felt the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and the Black Panthers, as I watched the life of Nelson Mandela on film. However, it was the strong desire for freedom Winnie Mandela possessed, that I believe was ignited by Nelson Mandela, that kept the African National Congress (ANC) mission alive during the 27 years Mandela was in jail. Nelson Mandela’s influence on his strong spirited and passionate wife Winnie and the South African nation will live on for generations to come. 

As a young girl growing up in New Haven, Connecticut, I first became aware of Nelson Mandela, when the Superintendent of New Haven Public Schools Dr. John Dow, was arrested for protesting against Apartheid in front of Yale University.  At the time, I didn’t understand why my Superintendent would put himself in a position to get arrested, because in my mind, we were past the Civil Rights Movement and I had no idea what Apartheid was. By the time I went off to college, I became more aware of Nelson Mandela; and when he was released from jail, he visited New York City, in 1990, where he spoke at Yankee Stadium, with thousands of people gathered to see him and I was right there standing proud as I witnessed history.

17 years later, in 2007, at the request of Nelson Mandela, Oprah Winfrey opens a school for girls, “Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls”, in South Africa. As the founder of my own girl’s organization, “Sisters of Today and Tomorrow”, I get excited just thinking about what these girls will become, and how they will change the world. I also think about the probability of Nelson Mandela’s thought process when he asked Oprah to develop a school in his native land…  In my mind, I believe he understood his influence and Oprah’s power.  The combination will be historic; because the girls who attend and graduate from “Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls” in South Africa have the opportunity to attend college anywhere in the world. And we all know when you educate a girl you educate a nation.

With education being the foundation for these young girls, a hint of Winnie Mandela’s passionate history for freedom that Mandela ignited and the guidance of a woman like Oprah Winfrey, the legacy of Nelson Mandela and his fight for true freedom will live on, as this long walk for freedom is not over just yet.

God Bless you Nelson Mandela and thank you for the influence you have had on the world and generations to come…