Influential people come in all shapes, sizes and races. This is made even more clear in the month of February. Much more than just another winter month, February is as much about history as it is about anything. It’s a time to celebrate all African American accomplishments, big and small, amd when it comes to black history, it does not get much bigger than Nelson Mandela.

Mandela was born in Transkei, South Africa in 1918 as Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. He went on to later study law and become an instrumental part of the African National Congress that fought against apartheid in 1948. It was not always easy to be Mandela. He fought for what he believed in, but that came at a huge price. Between the years of 1956-1961 he was tried for treason. He was finally acquitted in 1961.

Mandela was then arrested a year later in 1962 for his actions and was sentenced to five years with hard labor. This was a tough part of Mandela’s life, but he never wavered. Mandela was then sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964. After spending decades behind bars he was finally released in 1990. Behind prison walls was where he grew the most.

Mandela is looked at as the most influential and important person to step out against apartheid in South African history. His courage and strength lead him through the tough times to become a role model and leader not only for the black people in the world but everyone.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear,” Mandela once said “but the triumph over it.”

These words ring true even today. Not only did Mandela have to face fears but he had to overcome them to become as influential and important as he was. He used his fears as fuel to better the world and to make a difference in the lives of many. If it were not for Mandela, who knows where society would be. It is not every day a person with the influence Mandela had comes around. When thinking of black history month it is important to remember figures like him and what he did to make the world a better place through using the mind.

“Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world,” Mandela said.

He really did cover it all. So when you think about February and the cold and dreary days, remember this month is about a lot more than that. It is about remembering and honoring the African American people who made a difference in this world. It is not just another month, it is an important month for history and mankind.

“There is no passion found in playing small,” Mandela said, “in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

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