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Mandela's legacy lost on many young people

Updated: Thursday, December 12 2013, 01:49 PM CST

While many Wichitans are celebrating Nelson Mandela’s life, others ask if the younger generation has a true understanding of who he was. We spoke to students today and found for many, the legacy is something they were never taught.

"I've never heard of him before,” said Bethany Hesse.”One of the guys at the swim club was like, hey did you hear Nelson Mandela died? I was like, I don't know who that is."

"I was finding out what recently happened and why he was so loved here and there, NPR did a lot of really good stuff,” Caitlin Marrero said, “but I didn't know why he had gone to jail, I didn’t know what was going on."

For many students that’s the norm, learning about the iconic Nelson Mandela through news reports after his death…something with is troubling to those of an older generation such as Elmer Smith, member of the Philadelphia Daily News Editorial Board, who met Mandela in 1996.

"We're talking about a regime that was so repressive that it represents frankly a level of evil that existed, during the lifetime of those young people that we're talking about that was reversed to a point now where there is a democracy in that country,” he said.

For Smith, the topic is something that students need to learn because it’s not just South Africa’s history.

"The United States was an important player in ending apartheid, they should know that our contributions to the causes in South Africa was one of the reasons they were able to lift that yoke it's our history and their history but it's human history and it's a part of who we are."

Students agree, “I mean I think we should definitely like learn more about him if he is the activist he truly was.”

Mandela's legacy lost on many young people


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