Tonight I am remembering a radical and a man who recognized that white supremacy can’t be fought with niceties and who realized that words and negotiations won’t make the powerful give up any meaningful amount of power. A man who realized that strikes, bombs and guns were needed to bring down apartheid. A man who is still too often depicted in sanitized liberal terms and who in death will likely have his life’s work further sanitized and betrayed. 

Let’s also remember that for much of his life the western media and politicians called him a terrorist, a murderer, a radical and a madmen at the head if a communist party with no popular support who should have been isolated, ignored and imprisoned. 

I will also remember the thousands upon thousands of black South Africans who died before him – radicals tortured by police, workers whose picket lines were cut down with bullets, innocent people whose white murderers were never brought to justice, families that starved to death in a country with enough wealth to feed everyone, people who died in custody for refusing to turn against their comrades and countless others who were unfortunate enough to be born black and poor in a country and a world which don’t make it easy to be either.