(WASHINGTON)—The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) joins with millions of people around the world in expressing deep sorrow upon hearing the news of the passing of former South African President Nelson Mandela.
“Nelson Mandela was more than a hero to the South African people,” said AFGE National Vice President for Women and Fair Practices Augusta Thomas. “He came to signify the integrity and commitment of those who, despite the odds, stood against oppression and injustice.
“Many members and leaders of AFGE participated in the anti-apartheid support movement here in the U.S. We were proud to be associated with the men and women in South Africa who, through various means, took up a fight that many mainstream commentators believed impossible to win. The people of South Africa demonstrated that they were not prepared to listen to critics, but instead did what needed to be done. AFGE, along with many friends in other labor unions and social justice organizations, responded to the call from the South African Freedom Movement and pushed our own government to shift its stance away from its support of the apartheid South African government. The image of a Nelson Mandela that most of us had never seen, nevertheless pervaded our movement and served as an inspiration.”
“Our world has been forever changed by the dedication, sacrifice and humility of Nelson Mandela,” added AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. “His legacy of unwavering belief in the human spirit and teachings of peace in the face of all odds is something that we all must strive to achieve. At its core the labor movement is about helping our neighbor and overcoming our differences to reach a common goal. When we look to leaders like Mandela, our purpose and our cause becomes clearer. Our thoughts are with his family and the people of South Africa.”
“Today, while we mourn his loss, we also celebrate his life and his work. We thank him for all that he did and we thank the countless other South African men and women who, along with Mandela, took a stand and ultimately won,” concluded Thomas.