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Michael Frazier


Alumnus Michael Frazier (D.C., 1985-1993) reflects on his memory of Nelson and Winnie Mandela’s 1990 visit to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston. Boston was the second stop on the twelve day, eight city national tour by the leader of the African National Congress orchestrated to keep official U.S. sanction in place against the apartheid South African government. You can watch coverage from that visit here.

Senator Kennedy, a national co-chair of the tour, invited Mr. Mandela to visit Boston to witness firsthand America’s support for a free and democratic South Africa. The Kennedy family, en masse, welcomed the Mandelas to the Library, presenting him with a bust of President John F. Kennedy upon arrival. The Mandelas were particularly delighted to be hosted by their good friend Senator Kennedy as well as to have the opportunity to meet and spend time with Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The luncheon was attended by several Massachusetts officials such as Governor Michael Dukakis, Senator John F. Kerry, Mayor Raymond Flynn, and Congressman Joe Kennedy II. A number of individuals from the entertainment world were also in attendance, including Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover, Stevie Wonder, and Jackson Browne.

The speaking portion of the program was simple and eloquent with Senator Kennedy introducing Nelson Mandela. The latter both thanked American citizens for their support and spoke about the importance of America leading the international community in the goal of a free South Africa. At Senator Kennedy’s request, Stevie Wonder performed at the luncheon, singing a song he had composed in honor of Mr. Mandela.

This historic event was made possible by the tireless, hard work of the Boston and Washington, D.C. Kennedy staff members working together with a common goal. A special thank you to Barbara Souliotis, Liz Phillips, and Juliet Trofi of the Boston office and Ranny Cooper, Carey Parker, Greg Craig, Nancy Soderberg, Melody Miller, Camille Meyer, and Kathy Kruse of the D.C. office. Additional thanks to Kennedy alumni Atif Harden and Chris Doherty of the Boston Mandela advance team. Indeed, it was a memory for a lifetime!