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Black boys learn the real message of Mandela

Local philanthropists, encourage local youth to fulfill their dreams

D. Kevin McNeir | 1/1/2014, 9 a.m.

What makes for a legend? That is the question that is addressed in the recently-released biopic, “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.” While the filmmakers wanted to show the more personal side of Nelson Mandela, they also faced the arduous task of presenting a hero while also trying to be true to history. The film was first proposed in the 1980s by South African producer Anant Singh. Eventually it fell to director Justin Chadwick and writer William Nicholson to take five decades of South African history and compress it for the silver screen. Idris Elba plays the title role of Mandela and while he does not resemble Mandela, he does take on the role and wear it with skill.

But what can we learn from seeing this film about Mandela and South Africa and the impact that his country’s system of apartheid had on its citizens and the world? We asked a group of 50 local youth that were taken on a movie outing last Friday, accompanied by 15 adults. It was all made possible by several generous benefactors. The first was Keith Harrell, CEO/executive director of Casting Couch Productions, whose TV talk show focuses on entertainment and discusses social issues affecting our society. The second was The Gentleman’s Acquisition [GA] — a philanthropic group whose members prefer to remain anonymous and instead shine the spotlight on individuals and organizations that are practicing benevolence. The rewards they provide are intended as incentives to encourage recipients to continue their good deeds.

Reflections on the Mandela film

Annette Fulton, 46, mentor/educator, Miami County Day School: “This is a good opportunity for the children that I mentor and teach so they can see who Mandela was and the struggles that he faced.”

Jordan Morris, 15, junior at Miami Country Day School: “I was interested in seeing what Mandela went through when he was in prison. I read about it but wanted to see how he coped with that.”

Frank Goa, 40, mentor and educator, North Miami Senior High School: “I found it interesting that Mandela got all the dignitaries of the world, even Communists, to pay tribute to him at his funeral.

The word that comes to mind when I think about Mandela is unity.”

Harrell, 45, said he was pleased with the responses of the youth and the kinds of insights they shared after seeing the film.

“I thought it was a good event for the young people to see a true icon — one who helped us gain our freedom, not just in South Africa, but all over the world,” he said.