Allentown
63° F
Overcast
Overcast
 

Local woman recalls Mandela's speech

By Meghan Packer, Reporter, MPacker@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 06 2013 06:01:20 PM CST

History professor witnessed Nelson Mandela speech months after his release from prison.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -

People around the world are remembering Nelson Mandela, including a Bethlehem woman. Shannon Frystak saw Mandela speak in Detroit in 1990, four months after he had been released from prison. Frystak was a college student at the time and part of an organization called the Student Peace Coalition.

"We got our university to divest the almost a million dollars they had invested in South African companies in  1988," she said.

"The energy, it was electric, I do remember that," Frystak recalled of the event at Tiger Stadium. "I do remember palpably feeling the kind of electricity, it was a very diverse audience. People came from all over, I know that. It was black and white and young and old and rich and poor to see this man of the world as they're calling him on the news, speak."

One of her memories from the event is hearing Mandela quote a Marvin Gaye song saying, "brother, brother, there's far too many of you dying."

"I remember where I sat in the stadium. He only spoke for 20 minutes but as a civil rights historian, Rosa Parks was there and Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin," said Frystak. "Just being able to see a freedom fighter, having been an activist myself and worked on numerous issues, to be able to bear witness to this historic man who really fought for what he believed in and then came out on the other side of it with his humanity intact."

Frystak is now an associate professor of History at East Stroudsburg University with specialties in a few issues including civil rights and African American history.

She said, "I don't think when we're 21 we realized the impact that some of these events are going to have on our lives."