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Faculty on topic: Vinson on the legacy of Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela, former South African president and noted anti-apartheid revolutionary, died on Dec. 5 at the age of 95. Robert Vinson recently joined William & Mary News to discuss Mandela’s legacy and what made him such an influential and important leader.


In this video, Vinson discusses three things that he feels made Nelson Mandela special: first, his lack of bitterness following a 27-year prison stay; second, his ability to negotiate with the apartheid regime; and third, his accomplishment of nonviolently transitioning South Africa into a country not divided by race.


In this clip, he also compares Mandela to George Washington, describing how he guided the transition of a nation.


Vinson is the University Associate Professor for Teaching Excellence. His research interests include the African Diaspora, Southern Africa and African American history. He wrote The Americans are Coming!: The Dream of African American Liberation in Segregationist South Africa in 2012 and is completing two additional book projects. Vinson also served as co-chair of William & Mary’s Lemon Project, an effort to better understand, chronicle and preserve the history of blacks at the College and in the community.