Nelson Mandela Dead: I Remember Miami's Black Tourism Boycott

Categories: El Jefe

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Mandela
Nelson Mandela's passing today makes me profoundly and horribly sad. He was a great man who suffered for his people during decades in prison. He was a brilliant orator who inspired a generation. He was a true hero in an era when we have painfully few.

As I write this, tears well up in my eyes. Truly the most important man of his generation is gone. Truly the most astonishing political leader of our time is no more.

I was covering Overtown and Liberty City for the Miami Herald back then and I was one of the few white reporters to do so. There had been incredible strife between Cubans and African Americans then. Riots a little more than a year before had burned parts of black Miami and anger ran high.

Then Mandela appeared on TV and pointed out that world pariahs like Fidel Castro had backed him when he was in jail for 27 years. He said he was grateful.

After Mandela announced that he would visit Miami in May 1990, then commissioner Victor De Yurre, who would become a pariah himself in later years, criticized the South Afrtican leader. He asked that a proclamation in Mandela's honor be rescinded. I remember gasping when I heard this. De Yurre thought he was playing good politics. He wasn't! I was embarrassed for the guy.

I remember calling African American luminaries in Miami that day. There wasn't really anger. People were just surprised as hell at De Yurre's ignorance and political gamesmanship. Then others followed. Mayor Xavier Suarez was more careful, but also pulled his support for the proclamation praising Mandela.

Miami Commissioner Miriam Alonso, who later lost for mayor after making lunatic comments like the "Mayor's job is Cuban," had never supported the proclamation for Mandela.

All three should be ashamed of themselves today, whether or not they have changed their tune. I said then, and I continue to say today, those actions were inexcusable.

Lawyer HT Smith led a black tourism boycott that followed. Many conventions decided not to come to the city and a convention hotel on the beach owned by blacks never materialized in the way the boycott sponsors hoped it would.

Miami grew up in this era, just as I did when I was in college at Brown University and we sat in at the University Hall in the late 70s to force divestiture from South Africa and to force out the apartheid that Mandela despised. I was part of a similar protest at the University of California at Berkeley in the mid 80s. Nelson Mandela was our shining light back then.

The universities divested and apartheid eventually fell. Today, blacks in Miami continue to struggle economically. But there is no longer the intense hatred that characterized that era. We have a black president in the United States. Race relations in here are much better than they were. I think Nelson Mandela had something to do with all those things.

The world is poorer today. Let's all cry a little for our loss. Then let's try to make the world a better place as Mandela did.

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21 comments
jlop28vislophis1
jlop28vislophis1

Dear Partners,

President Obama said in his speech at Nelson Mandela’s memorial that we should all ask ourselves how well we are applying Nelson Mandela’s lessons.

The facts that the United States government has not liberated Puerto Rico’s political prisoner Oscar López Rivera, and decolonized Puerto Rico prove that President Obama obviously is not applying them at all!How easy it is to find fault in others, and never see our own. Nevertheless, Nelson Mandela has taught us that together we can make miracles happen!

José

www.TodosUnidosDescolonizarPR.blogspot.com

J Panzer Rivero
J Panzer Rivero

All you guys make me laugh. ...I can't force all of you to be right....lol

J Panzer Rivero
J Panzer Rivero

Besitos para ti camila...te conosko del club gay diskkoteka....lol

Camilo Melendez
Camilo Melendez

lol at J Panzer Mariconero or w.e his name is. I bet you wouldn't talk shit to Mandela's face though.

Stuart Pascul
Stuart Pascul

Talk about wingnuts, I got a Dhimmitude e-mail tonight. :-) They never Stop!

Bill Brock
Bill Brock

@ J Panzer Rivero - you're not against terrorism from the left or right - you don't mention the terrorism of the S. Africa fascist regime that the ANC and Mandela fought to free all S Africans from! Instead, in a supreme act of hypocrisy, you call Mandela a terrorist. Damned Rightwingnuts - always trying to deflect from the truth.

Bill Brock
Bill Brock

Claiming that Mandela was a terrorist against the fascist S.Africa dictatorship is like calling the Jewish resistance against the Nazis terrorists. Fucking Rightwingers - always trying to rewrite history to fit their anti humane objectivism.

Bill Brock
Bill Brock

@ J Panzer Rivero - I never refuted that Mandela was a communist - he was. I was refuting your lie that he plead guilty.

Phil Ramirez
Phil Ramirez

Don't divert my question: Given your knowledge about bombers, name at least 2 of the Miami Cuban bombers...

Kristofer Jesus Castellar
Kristofer Jesus Castellar

"Talk of peace will remain hollow if Israel continues to occupy Arab territories." ~Nelson Mandela during '99 visit to Palestine

J Panzer Rivero
J Panzer Rivero

Phil , I'm against terrorism ... from right or left... period!!!!

J Panzer Rivero
J Panzer Rivero

Mandela took the hero’s approach to adversity. In 1963, having been held incommunicado for 90 days during which the police had assured them that they would all be hanged, the leadership of the ANC finally met with their lawyers only to be told they should ‘prepare for the worst’. In his four-hour closing statement at the Rivonia trial, Mandela pleaded guilty in the name of his ideal of ‘a democratic society with equal opportunities for all’. When he sat down again on the bench, he tried to cheer up his co-defendants: ‘I don’t want to die but if this leads to death, the first thing I’ll do on arrival is to join the local branch of the ANC.’ The remark would have been impossible in his last moments, half a century on.

Phil Ramirez
Phil Ramirez

Rivero, since you're so informed when it comes to terrorists, and the likes, can you name at least 5 of the Miami bomb-planting Cubans in the late 70s-80s?!

J Panzer Rivero
J Panzer Rivero

you right Bill , he never was a communist ,,,lol .. get a life...

Bill Brock
Bill Brock

^^^ Lies.^^^ The defendants were accused of sabotage, ordering munitions, recruiting young men for guerrilla warfare, encouraging invasion for foreign military units, and conspiring to obtain funds for revolution from foreign states. The first accused, Nelson Mandela plead not guilty: "My Lord, it is not I, but the government that should be in the dock. I plead not guilty." Each of the other defendants in turn entered not guilty pleas as well. http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/mandela/mandelaaccount.html

J Panzer Rivero
J Panzer Rivero

Nelson Mandela was the head of UmKhonto we Sizwe, (MK), the terrorist wing of the ANC and South African Communist Party. At his trial, he had pleaded guilty to 156 acts of public violence including mobilising terrorist bombing campaigns, which planted bombs in public places, including the Johannesburg railway station. Many innocent people, including women and children, were killed by Nelson Mandela’s MK terrorists.

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