Nelson Mandela

It's History Night! Stonewall, South Africa And MLK

Jan 15, 2014

On Thursday nights, WLRN looks back at the people, places and major events that have shaped South Florida, the United States and our modern world. 

On January 16, Channel 17 presents three shows pegged to these headlines and current events -- a string of historic legal and legislative successes by America's gay and lesbian community; last year's death of South African President Nelson Mandela and next week's Martin Luther King holiday:

Mark Hedden / WLRN

The Art Basel afterglow is still upon us in South Florida, and that's evident in what you've been reading this past week.

But amid stories of Basel and it implications for Miami and its surroundings, the Keys' efforts to save a landmark bridge were popular on our site, as was one of our many stories on Nelson Mandela's passing.

Scroll on to see and hear this week's most popular stories.

Alex Saleh


Allegations that Miami Gardens police harassed and intimidated black employees and customers at one convenience store has led to the resignation of that city’s police chief. Julie Brown from the Miami Herald says that the city's police chief, who is black, is actually a rarity: nearly all of the commanders and most squad officers are white and Hispanic, although Miami Gardens is predominantly black.

Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi / The Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG -- The man accused of faking sign interpretation while standing alongside world leaders like U.S. President Barack Obama at Nelson Mandela's memorial service said Thursday he hallucinated that angels were entering the stadium, suffers from schizophrenia and has been violent in the past.

South Africa The Good News / Wikimedia Commons

  It was the summer of 1990. I was home, living with my parents, working part-time at a Miami television station as a production assistant. I made an aspiring journalist’s wage, $6 an hour.

A multiracial group of students back at my Washington, D.C., college had staged sit-ins calling for the school to divest from South Africa. I remember campus-wide "reverse apartheid" protest days. We were learning about modern-day, systemic racial segregation.

But in 1990, Nelson Mandela, who'd spent 27 years as a political prisoner, was released.

When one of the world's best known, most beloved champions of human rights died last week, we had to run a story about his impact on South Florida.

During Tuesday's memorial service at South Africa's largest soccer stadium, President Obama delivered a 20-minute eulogy that compared Mandela to Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln and America's founding fathers.

Mandela, Obama said in Johannesburg, was the "last great liberator of the 20th century." He was not only a man of politics, but a pragmatist and flawed human being who managed to discipline his anger to turn centuries of oppression into what Mandela liked to call a "Rainbow Nation."

(This post was last updated at 9:27 a.m. ET.)

The skies were gray over Johannesburg this morning. And the rain was relentless.

South Africa The Good News / Wikimedia Commons

In the summer of 1993 Nelson Mandela was touring the United States raising money for his African National Congress political party. He visited one of the most racially separate cities in the U.S. but had a much different experience compared to his visit three years earlier in Miami.

Mandela came to visit in early July. That summer I was working as an intern for a CBS News radio station in Chicago. I was assigned to help the reporter who was on scene at host Rev. Jesse Jackson's headquarters in Chicago's South Side, where the population is largely African-American.

If you live on the Caribbean street – and Florida is part of that street – here are three ways of looking at Nelson Mandela’s death yesterday.

Each, not surprisingly, involves Cuba and Fidel Castro. But in a larger sense they involve how immaturely we practice politics on this street – and how immaturely the world beyond this street views our politics.