TLS signed “N. Mandela,” one page, 8.25 x 11.5, African National Congress letterhead, January 4, 1993. Letter to Rev. Ronald I. Schupp of Chicago. In full: “I refer to your letter of 13 November 1992, which arrived at our office on 21 December 1992. It is unfortunate that I was already on vacation at the time and have only just returned to my office. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a great man, a man of great sensitivity, foresight and inspiration to his people. The vigil you undertake annually in honor of the life and work of Dr. King is to be applauded and encouraged. I salute you! Our thoughts will be with you on 20 January.” Central toning, otherwise fine condition. Accompanied by the original mailing envelope.
Fighting for the same cause on separate continents, King and Mandela are historically and intellectually intertwined, both becoming internationally recognized symbols of equality itself. With the passage of civil rights legislation in the 1960s, King began to see his vision of an equal America take hold before his death in 1968. Meanwhile, Mandela was imprisoned in South Africa for his activism against its institutionally racist apartheid regime—at the time he wrote this letter, he had been free for just two years and the era of apartheid was drawing to a close. Segregative legislation began to be dismantled in 1990, but the official ‘end’ of apartheid is usually recognized as the 1994 general election, South Africa’s first fully democratic, multiracial election. Mandela won the presidency and invited Coretta Scott King to his inauguration, invoking her husband’s famous words during his speech: ‘This is one of the most important moments in the life of our country…we can loudly proclaim from the rooftops—Free at last! Free at last!’ RR Auction COA.