Macro Sociological Issue Being Addressed Research Paper

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They are words that last forever, and when we face challenges where racial inequities and inhumane horrors cause to pause in stunned silence, often times these words of inspiration come to us and move us take action for social justice. Harrell explains Mandela's gift in this regard saying:

"Mandela exhibited the characteristics that made jeremiad in South Africa social protest feasible: he combined lament and call to consciousness in sustaining South Africa's democratic mission. His ultimate success depended upon his rational appeal to those who saw his course of action would be the most sensible choice (7 of 15)."

Indeed, with words so carefully crafted as to emphasize the essences of democracy, Mandela ensured the support of those in South Africa who had long been deprived democracy. He also appealed to those who understood that the only way to bring about a world peace, was to pursue democratic principles, ensuring him an audience that would be supportive and would forever remember him when they think in terms eradicating oppression.

Nelson Mandela's Influence on Apartheid Survey

This is a simple random survey of ten questions designed to gain information on perceptions about Nelson Mandela's influence on apartheid in South Africa. How people understand and appreciate Mandela's influence and struggle to free South Africa will be a measurement of how he has impacted society as a whole, and their feelings about apartheid. In order to gain the most accurate measurement of peoples' understanding and feelings, the survey consist of ten questions, and will reflect the survey's bias or weakness in giving the individual being surveyed three answers to select from. This will limit and contain the response in a way that the data can be utilized in the research report, but by limiting the responses and providing a choice in answer to which an individual may possibly get right, even though they do not know the correct response, will be a weakness that will be reflected in the calculated margin for error.

Simple Random Survey Questions

1) Nelson Mandela is best known for:

a. His work in American civil rights.

b. As a world religious leader.

c. As the liberator from South African apartheid.

2) Nelson Mandela was strongly influenced by the philosophy and work of:

a. Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa.

b. Moral Majority leader Jerry Falwell.

c. American civil rights leader Martin Luther King.

3) Nelson Mandela was incarcerated by his government for:

a. His political ideas on South African government and apartheid.

b. For plotting to assassinate a world leader.

c. In a conspiracy by the U.S. Government to silence him.

4) Nelson Mandela was released from prison because:

a. He served his time in a U.S. federal prison.

b. He became an imprisoned symbol of South African apartheid.

c. He converted to Islam while in prison.

5) Nelson Mandela went on to become:

a. AU.S. senator.

b. An important figure in restructuring the South African government.

c. A terrorist responsible for the events of 9/11/2001.

6) Nelson Mandela received:

a. A Nobel Peace Prize.

b. A documentary Grammy.

c. A large fine for failing to pay his parking tickets in front of the United Nations building in New York City.

7) Nelson Mandela became leader of the:

a. The American Democratic National Committee (DNC).

b. The African National Congress (ANC).

c. National Black Caucus (NBC).

8) Nelson Mandela was the first:

a. Black president of South Africa.

b. Black mayor of Atlanta, Georgia.

c. The first black senator elected to Congress.

9) Nelson Mandela created:

a. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

b. The American Civil Rights Commission.

c. The American Black Student Scholarship Award.

10) Nelson Mandela said:

a. "The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself."

b. "Only the truth can put the past to rest."

c. "I have a dream."

Survey Results

The simple random survey was administered to forty college students in the United States, and the results were very interesting. On the first question, which would identify the number of students that recognized the name: Nelson Mandela, as South Africa's liberator from apartheid, just sixteen students (40%) recognized that Mandela with his role. However, another sixteen (40%) identified him as a world religious leader, and this would suggest that while these students did not necessarily understand Mandela's role as political, even more so than religious, inspiration is often times put into the same categorical framework as religion, as are the actions of working against oppression. The remaining 20% of students who mistakenly associated Mandela with the American civil rights movements did not necessarily distinguish his work as originating in South Africa, but probably at least recognized his name in association with civil rights specifically as opposed to being a religious leader. The results are an indication that Mandela is more recognizable as a figure representing black freedom.

Not surprisingly perhaps, is the survey response to question number two, which indicates that 98% of the students surveyed believed that Mandela was strongly influenced by the work and philosophy of the American civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther. This is probably reflective of the fact that few people realize that Mahatma Gandhi spent some twenty years in South Africa, going there right after having graduated law school in Britain. It was in South Africa, where there was a minority of poorly treated Indians that Gandhi began his own work against racial oppression and colonization. Gandhi's philosophy of civil disobedience was adopted by Mandela. However, for American students, King would have been the association by choice, because he is a more prominent civil rights figure in American culture.

Question number three is intended to give us some idea of the validity of the recognition factor. Thirty-nine percent of the students surveyed identified Mandela as having been incarcerated by the South African Government for his views on apartheid. The remainder of the students, 61%, believed that Mandela was the victim of a U.S. Government plot against him. This, again, would indicate that the response to Mandela's name recognition was very accurate, and that there might be as much as a 1% questionnaire bias or error factor. This was consistent when students responded to question number four, about why Mandela was released from prison, thereby supporting a 39% name recognition factor.

While 70% of the students surveyed associated Mandela with the African National Congress, that result is probably more indicative of their choice of the response that contained the word "African" as opposed to their understanding of group association by country. It would demonstrate that the students probably perceive Mandela as an African, or African-American civil rights leader, which would be consistent with the results of the first question.

Overall, the results demonstrate a high name recognition factor among college students, and that Mandela was influential beyond South Africa in his work against apartheid. The survey can be modified and extended in order to give more accurate and more detailed results in the future, and on a larger scale.


Nelson Mandela's legacy continues to live on in the 21st century. South Africa has made progress, but its work commencing with the abolishment of apartheid laws, is just a little more than a decade old, in its infancy really. He is a widely recognized figure, and a man who inspires people with his words. As we know, words, and their meaning, live on long after the mortal man has ceased to do so. Even today, the words of great man who have inspired us in the way that Mandela has continue to do so. Most Americans, and the college students surveyed for this essay too, since none of them associated Mandela with the words of Dr. Martin Luther King; remain inspired by the words and jeremiad of these great men who said:

"I have a dream (Dr. Martin Luther King, Civil Rights Leader)."

"Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country (John F. Kennedy, President of the United States)."

Nelson Mandela said:

"Our daily deeds as ordinary South Africans must produce an actual South African reality that will reinforce humanity's belief in justice, strengthen its confidence in the nobility of the human soul and sustain all our hopes for a glorious life for all (Harrell 8 of 15)."

These are the words of great men that sustain us. The words and influence of Nelson brought down apartheid, reminding us all each person's right to a glorious life.

Works Cited

Harrell, Willie J. (2009). "We Shall Crush Apartheid: Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko, and the Rhetoric of the South African Anti-apartheid Jeremiad. Ethnicity and Race in…[continue]

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