LORAIN — Nelson Mandela’s influence goes beyond the borders of South Africa, according Imam Paul Hasan, who led a remembrance ceremony for Mandela at the Lorain Public Library on Saturday.
Hasan, of Interfaith Ministries in Lorain, said Lorain residents can learn from Mandela’s struggle and his efforts to end apartheid — racial segregation in his homeland. He was imprisoned for 27 years for his fight against the government before becoming the nation’s first black president.
Hasan said it’s important to remember Mandela’s contributions to end oppression. Since the 95-year-old’s death on Dec. 5, commemorations have been held for him around the world.
“We want to make sure we made our contribution and recognized his greatness,” Hasan said. “It’s for us to recognize the sacrifice he made, not just for South Africa, but worldwide, for human dignity.”
Hasan said Mandela’s sacrifices were especially significant to him, as an African-American man. He called upon those who attended Saturday’s commemoration to follow in Mandela’s footsteps and improve the city of Lorain.
Hasan, Tim Carrion, Marcus Atkinson and Ricky Smith organized Saturday’s ceremony with the help of Lorain Public Library System director Joanne Eldridge. The event was sponsored by International Urban Peace, Justice & Empowerment of Lorain County; Interfaith Ministries and the Lorain community.
Those who attended discussed Mandela’s life as well as how they could improve their community.
“There are many, many people who are not taking control of their destiny … We’re all in this together,” Atkinson said. “We can look at people like Nelson Mandela, and people before that and after that, to empower ourselves.”
Carrion said there are disparities between races in the U.S. He said it’s important for the city’s leaders to work together.
The Rev. C. Roger Dickerson also spoke and said a prayer.
“Christ was chosen to die for the sins of the world. Nelson was chosen to prove a point that no one else ever has,” he said. “Yes, he did 27 years, but he came out stronger after those 27 years. He left us a legacy.”