A Journey to Mandela’s Home: HCII Member Stephanie Knighten in South Africa

This entry is cross-posted from SEIU.org and authored by Leah Maddox


Stephanie Knighten (pictured top left) and Shanisha Robinson embarked today on a journey to South Africa – to pay their respects to Nelson Mandela and infuse their work with the anti-apartheid movement Mandela led.

Hailing from Chicago and Los Angeles, respectively, Stephanie and Shanisha are Millennial member leaders at Healthcare Illinois/Indiana and ULTCW.

In preparation of their trip today, Stephanie and Shanisha attended a remembrance ceremony for Mandela at the Washington National Cathedral. They heard from activists who had met Mandela, had been arrested while challenging injustice alongside him, and who had carried freedom fighter songs back to America from South Africa.

“It brings me back to my Millennial committee and the energy we are creating at ULTCW,” Shanisha reflected. “We have such a strong voice, than can at times go untapped. But not anymore. We’re ready to step up for real change in this country. Uplifting our voice is the only way to true democracy.
Stephanie similarly stated, “One speaker reminded us how young Mandela and other revolutionaries were when they became involved with the anti-apartheid movement.
They were just babies. This is exactly why I stepped up as a Millennial – why I knock doors and organize at my union hall.”Stephanie added, “We left the Cathedral singing a quote by Mandela put to music, ‘No easy walk to freedom’. I felt like it was speaking straight to me. If you don’t stand up for what you believe in, no one else will.
“It’s going to be a journey,” Shanesha nodded. “I just feel lucky to be able to partake in such a historic moment in civil rights.”
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