(via the Mail & Guardian / Johannesburg, South Africa)
(via the Mail & Guardian / Johannesburg, South Africa)
"Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world."
(Photo: Greg Bartley / Caemra Press via Redux / The New York Times)
Nelson Mandela, who led the emancipation of South Africa from white minority rule and served as his country’s first black president, becoming an international emblem of dignity and forbearance, died Thursday. He was 95.
The South African president, Jacob Zuma, announced Mr. Mandela’s death.
Mr. Mandela had long declared he wanted a quiet exit, but the time he spent in a Pretoria hospital in recent months was a clamor of quarreling family, hungry news media, spotlight-seeking politicians and a national outpouring of affection and loss. The vigil even eclipsed a recent visit by President Obama, who paid homage to Mr. Mandela but decided not to intrude on the privacy of a dying man he considered his hero.
Mr. Mandela will be buried, according to his wishes, in the village of Qunu, where he grew up. The exhumed remains of three of his children were reinterred there in early July under a court order, resolving a family squabble that had played out in the news media.
Mr. Mandela’s quest for freedom took him from the court of tribal royalty to the liberation underground to a prison rock quarry to the presidential suite of Africa’s richest country. And then, when his first term of office was up, unlike so many of the successful revolutionaries he regarded as kindred spirits, he declined a second term and cheerfully handed over power to an elected successor, the country still gnawed by crime, poverty, corruption and disease but a democracy, respected in the world and remarkably at peace.
The question most often asked about Mr. Mandela was how, after whites had systematically humiliated his people, tortured and murdered many of his friends, and cast him into prison for 27 years, he could be so evidently free of spite.
The government he formed when he finally won the chance was an improbable fusion of races and beliefs, including many of his former oppressors. When he became president, he invited one of his white wardens to the inauguration. Mr. Mandela overcame a personal mistrust bordering on loathing to share both power and a Nobel Peace Prize with the white president who preceded him, F. W. de Klerk.
And as president, from 1994 to 1999, he devoted much energy to moderating the bitterness of his black electorate and to reassuring whites against their fears of vengeance.
The explanation for his absence of rancor, at least in part, is that Mr. Mandela was that rarity among revolutionaries and moral dissidents: a capable statesman, comfortable with compromise and impatient with the doctrinaire.
When the question was put to Mr. Mandela in an interview for this obituary in 2007 — after such barbarous torment, how do you keep hatred in check? — his answer was almost dismissive: Hating clouds the mind. It gets in the way of strategy. Leaders cannot afford to hate.”
– The New York Times, "Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s Liberator as Prisoner and President, Dies at 95"
Fifty years is a relative blip on the grand timeline, barely a rounding error between your genesis point and the end of life as we know it. Yet in human terms, 50 years is longer than many life spans, past and present.
In Dallas terms, 50 years is five decades of exploration, examination and grinding introspection about what happened, and why, on Nov. 22, 1963, in Dealey Plaza.
John F. Kennedy’s slaying was a seminal event in our city’s history, encapsulating too much that came before and influencing much that would follow, and here we are. We have considered it, studied it, reflected and grieved.
It’s tempting to acquiesce after all these years, to step away from the pain and sadness and horror of a president’s murder on our streets, and say, finally: “Enough. We are past that now.”
That many of us have obsessed about this single moment for so long says something. Dallas today bears little resemblance to 1963 Dallas. Divisions and demarcations, fading away by the decade, were stark. Today’s politics may have troubling elements, but they are a shallow dive compared with the dangerous extremism then.
“City of Hate” was not meant as an irony. It wasn’t an entire city, far from it, but certainly a part. With 50 years of hindsight, calling Dallas the city that killed Kennedy was neither fair nor accurate, given the lack of evidence that anyone other than a troubled loner was involved. Yet the allegation wasn’t that Dallas pulled the trigger, necessarily, but whether such a heinous crime could have happened anywhere else.
In truth, few 1963 U.S. cities would bear up well under scrutiny from 2013 eyes. America changed, and Dallas changed with it — more than many cities, perhaps, because it had a longer way to go. On balance, this has been a positive drawn from our introspection.
Another is the openness of our rumination. The events today in Dealey Plaza, remembering the 50th anniversary of a president’s death, are years in the making. City leaders, elected and unelected, have weighed competing priorities to find an appropriate ceremony that, importantly, strikes the right tone.
Despite what some outsiders might argue, Dallas has not shied away from hard questions. This, too, says something important about our city, even if fewer than 10 percent of its residents today were here on Nov. 22, 1963. This story, this event, belongs to all of us.
Which is why Dallas will resist the temptation to simply move beyond this moment, if that means shoving it onto some forgotten bookshelf.
A president was killed here for reasons that died with his killer. It does us no good to pretend this didn’t happen 50 years ago. From this terrible day and all the ones that follow, we will keep learning about ourselves and our city.”
– Editorial in the Dallas Morning News, "November 22, 1963 — A Date Dallas Will Never Truly Get Beyond"
America reacts to the death of a President. (Photos from top: Carl Mydans / Time & Life Pictures / Getty Images; Woman in New York City by Stan Wayman / Time & Life Pictures / Getty Images; Passers-by watch TV reports in Tucson via the Arizona Daily Star; students listening to the news over a loudspeaker at a school in Virginia Beach via the Virginian-Pilot; watching TV coverage of the funeral in Grand Central Terminal by Frank Castoral / New York Daily News)
“We just have a report from our correspondent Dan Rather in Dallas that he has confirmed that President Kennedy is dead. …From Dallas, Texas, the flash — apparently official — President Kennedy died at one P.M. Central Standard Time, two o’clock Eastern Standard Time, some 38 minutes ago.”
May 29, 1917 - Nov. 22, 1963
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.
The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
November 22, 1963. President John F Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy are seen riding in an open-top limousine toward Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas in this previously unseen photo by H. Warner King. He would be assassinated just minutes later. (via Time Magazine)
Ben Cooper, the son of a restaurant owner who became a costume impresario, didn’t invent the Halloween costume. But he and his company awakened generations of kids to the potential of what Halloween could be. No longer were we limited to the question, “So, are you going to be a ghost, a goblin, or a witch?” The question became, “So, what are you going to be for Halloween?” Thanks in large part to Ben Cooper, costume choices became unlimited—and Hollywood-inflected—helping Halloween become the pop culture phenomenon it is today.
Ben Cooper wasn’t the first company to manufacture Halloween costumes, nor was it the first to license Hollywood creations for the costume-buying public. Collegeville Flag and Manufacturing Company, one of Ben Cooper’s chief competitors, had been doing it since the early 1920s, and H. Halpern Company, otherwise known as Halco, was manufacturing Popeye, Olive Oil and Wimpy costumes during the same period.
But Ben Cooper had an advantage: The company excelled at getting licenses to characters before they became popular and, in a lot of cases, before anyone else. Consider one of its first purchases, in 1937: Snow White, from a little company called Walt Disney.
It wasn’t until after World War II, however, that Halloween costume manufacturing became big business. With the rise of television in the 1950s and the popularity of TV shows such as The Adventures of Superman, Zorro, and Davy Crockett, Ben Cooper obtained the licenses to many of these live-action shows and began mass producing inexpensive representations of them in costume form for less than $3 each, which amounts to about 12 bucks these days. The company distinguished itself with speed: It would rapidly buy rights, produce costumes and get them onto store shelves, which opened a whole new world of costuming to children.
By the 1960’s, Ben Cooper owned between 70 and 80 percent of the Halloween costume market, offering pretty much every pop culture reference in costume form.
“Turns out, rock’s Prince of Darkness was, secretly, a mensch.”