Following the passing of Nelson Mandela, the Black Student Alliance celebrates his life, his legacy and his spirit. This is tough news for the young democracy of South Africa and for the world. As a stabilizer, torchbearer, elder statesman and model activist, his impact on the world is unparalleled, unmatched and unquestioned.

In 1994, under Mandela’s leadership, apartheid was officially overthrown as a system of political and social governance, and Mandela became the first black South African elected president. “Tata” as he is affectionately referred means “father” and is a tribute to his role as father of the reformed South African nation.

As we reflect upon Mandela’s life, we are reminded of the famous speech he delivered during his 1964 trial. The final statement of his testimony in court will forever be remembered amongst the most powerful statements in the history of our world. “It is an ideal for which I hope to live for and to see realized,” he declared, referring to the equality he sought. “But, my Lord, if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” Mandela has ascended to his resting place with that ideal realized. He leaves behind a South Africa that has made significant advances on a wide range of social issues including gender equality, having instituted a provision in its constitution to promote the inclusion of women in political parties. South Africa has been a leader on other issues, including same-sex marriage, which has been legal since 2006. South Africa’s revolutionary leadership is made possible by the courage and strength that it derives from its moral leader, Nelson Mandela.

Let us remember Nelson Mandela today and embody his spirit as an eternal flame in our hearts.

Executive Board, Duke University Black Student Alliance