Nelson Mandela died today at the age of 95.
But his message, delivered 23 years ago during a sold-out rally in Tiger Stadium, remains just as strong today.
“Your solidarity has given us enormous strength and courage,” the South African liberation leader told Detroiters, just four months after he was released from jail, where he had spent 27 years. “We will not forget you.”
On June 28, 1990, Mandela met with then-Mayor Coleman Young, attended the Tigers Stadium rally and spoke to workers at the Ford River Rouge auto plant in Dearborn.
As factories continue to close and workers continue to lose wages and benefits, Mandela’s inspiring message to blue-collar workers should never be forgotten.
“It is you who have made the United States of America a superpower, a leader of the world,” the then-71-year-old told workers, before adding: “I am a member of the UAW; I am your flesh and blood. I am your comrade.”
Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.