We were there!  It was the Los Angeles Coliseum.  It was Friday, June 29, 1990.


We caught the bus at our local NAACP office and we paid $10 for an experience we weren’t going to forget.

Ivy Jean Gillete, Octavia Butler, Charles Johnson, Richard Harvey,Phoenix Smith and myself were among those from Pasadena riding across the freeway in a yellow school bus to the historic event held at the
Here’s my ticket (yup, it has been in my scrapbook for 23 1/2 years)

                    Here’s the flyer announcing the Mandela Freedom Celebration.
I couldn’t reach my old friend Octavia, the award-winning science-fiction writer, for comments on Mandela’s recent passing away, as Octavia has made her own transition.
Only an answer machine at Ivy Gillete’s phone number.  But Richard Harvey was available to make a few comments. .
Since the Mandela Freedom Celebration we attended together,  Richard has traveled to South Africa.  She went to Robben Island where Mandela was imprisoned for 27years.  She says she missed seeing the Quarry where he was put to work but she did visit his cell.

“Robin Island was a terrible place and seeing and going into his cell Icouldn’t help but wonder how he made it all those years and then lived on to such a rich old age,” she said.

 Also on her trip, Richard saw both of his homes, the one where he lived when married to his first wife Winnie and the residence where he was currently living.
Richard says she is grieving for Mandela but is able to reflect on the event at the Los Angeles Coliseum with fond memories.

She remembers the huge crowd assembled there and how welcoming they were.  She says there was a richness in them, not a monetary one but a richness of spirit and of welcoming.

Ah, memories.  For that Los Angeles event, Phoenix wore her Malcolm Marcus Martin Mandela Marley (Big M) t-shirt. She says of Mandela, “ He was the epitome of the statement “Be the change in the world you want to see.”

Someone, I think it was Richard, asked me what I remembered about June 29th. Well, let’s see now,  I remembered I had a page in my scrapbook with pictures, a flyer and a ticket.

Fortunately, I also remembered where my scrapbooks are kept and when I saw the photos, I knew where to look for everyone’s telephone number.

Charles Johnson, long-time family friend, known to me as “Uncle Charles,” like Ivy Jean, had his answer machine on.

But I did remember that I have a publication deadline which means no time to hang around for a return call..

And most important, Ms Forgetful, here, remembers that Nelson Mandela made an immeasurable contribution to the entire world and it is now a better place because of him.

Here’s Richard and the yellow school bus

Phoenix and Ivy


Uncle Charles