Mandela Day in Brooklyn

Olayemi Odesanya | 7/16/2015, 10:24 a.m.
Not everyone knows about Nelson Mandela International Day.

Not everyone knows about Nelson Mandela International Day.

July 18 is globally dedicated to recognizing Nelson Mandela’s birthday, and also his body of work throughout the years he spent fighting for human rights and dignity. The U.N. General Assembly dedicated this day to him in July 2009.

On social media, anyone who is planning to celebrate Mandela Day uses the “#time2serve” hashtag. They are trying to send the message of spending 67 minutes to serve and help the unfortunate. Sixty-seven minutes represents the number of years Mandela devoted to benefitting others.

There are many ways to lend a helping hand. Last year, students at Boys and Girls High School honored Mandela with community service. Participants painted fences, helped paint the mural of Mandela and cleaned Fulton Park. After they completed their community service, they had a 67-minute Peace Walk with notables from South Africa and former Mayor of New York David Dinkins.

“It is our job to celebrate our ancestors and realize what they have done for us,” said Tabari Bomani, principal of Nelson Mandela School of Justice.

This year, instead of having a day of service on his birthday, students plan to give Mandela a celebration on his birthday. In Brooklyn, City Council Member Robert E. Cornegy will attend activities taking place for the second annual weeklong celebration for Nelson Mandela at Boys and Girls High School. This school has a significant history with Mandela. He came to the school when he first visited the United States in 1990. Just recently, the school renamed its athletic field in honor of Mandela.

Along with the council member, other activists and elected officials are expected to attend the celebration. “In the true spirit of Madiba, having a day like today that is about service,” Cornegy said previously. “Service to the community is a testament to who he was and a testament to the fact that we know how to honor our elders and our predecessors.”

The weeklong event begins July 18 and ends July 24. Every day a different activity will be presented, including movie screenings, a poetry slam, artist projects, sports events, community events, a South African dance class, learning of the South African national Anthem, drum classes and performances.

Mandela once said, “It is in your hands to create a better world for all who live in it.”

For more information about the event, go to the Facebook page Mandela International Day of Bedford-Stuyvesant, on Twitter visit @MandelaDayBedstuy and on Instagram visit @madiba_day_of_service.