Nelson Mandela’s birthday celebration draws a large crowd
Kassmin Williams | 7/23/2013, 2:52 p.m.
“It really does continue a tradition in Boston of celebrating activists and that tradition is very long and it is one that we are very proud of,” Vivian Johnson said.
Willard Johnson lit the candle in remembrance of political prisoners and called the celebration of Mandela’s 95th birthday a dream come true considering Mandela’s recent hospitalization.
A former member of TransAfrica, Willard Johnson, who assisted with Nelson Mandela’s visit to Boston in 1990, participated in a cleanup of the Esplanade earlier in the day. The cleanup was a part of the United Nation’s Nelson Mandela Day in which South African Partners provided a list of places to volunteer for 67 minutes, each minute representing one minute of each year of Mandela’s activism.
Cleaning the Esplanade brought back memories of Mandela’s visit to Willard Johnson.
“I could just see it all of that in my head again,” Willard Johnson said. “It was thrilling,”
Old South Church member and Boston resident Deborah Washington remembers listening to Nelson Mandela’s visit over the radio while out camping and said the birthday celebration brought the same inspiration that his visit brought in 1990.
“We still have problems that need to be overcome but I don't feel that we maintain that spirit of inspiration,” Washington said. “I would like to see us reclaim that.”