This Day In Black History: June 10, 1980

Nelson Mandela wrote an anti-apartheid plea from prison.

Posted: 06/10/2014 12:00 AM EDT
Nelson Mandela

Late civil rights activist and the first Black president of South Africa Nelson Mandela wrote from prison on June 10, 1980.

The letter, smuggled out of Robben Island prison, reads: “UNITE! MOBILISE! FIGHT ON! BETWEEN THE ANVIL OF UNITED MASS ACTION AND THE HAMMER OF THE ARMED STRUGGLE WE SHALL CRUSH APARTHEID!”

In 1963, Mandela, along with other members of the African National Congress, was charged with sabotage, treason and violent conspiracy. After pleading guilty to many of the charges, he was sentenced to life in prison on July 12, 1964.

While in prison, Mandela wrote letters to promote the anti-apartheid movement and, after 27 years, he was released.

He returned to the ANC and succeeded in ending apartheid and creating a multiracial government.

On April 26, 1994, the country’s first multiracial elections were held, and in May, Mandela became the first Black president of South Africa.

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(Photo: OFF/AFP/Getty Images)

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