Nelson Mandela 1918 - ∞
Countless days have gone by and I still cannot understand all the eulogies in honor of Mandela. An icon of his caliber can never truly die because the words of a luminary leader will always outlast his life. It is difficult to process his passing because the real long-term impact of his life has yet to reach myriad oppressed populations across the world. It was not just racial segregation that Mandela opposed, but the abject poverty, the extreme social inequality and the rampant violation of human rights that still afflicts a vast portion of the world's population today. There are many Robben Islands still waiting to be tore down and in that sense, Mandela remains very much alive and well. I believe that the real way to honor the man is to continue his work as we march headlong into the future. As Nelson Mandela said it himself: "It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership." We can still expect Madiba to man the front lines in times of danger. As a source of political inspiration and moral guidance, his timeless words and unparalleled life history will never die. Mandela lives forever.