Dear Mr Mandela, Dear Mrs Parks

Please note: this is a travelling exhibition and is not located at the Museum currently.

The Nelson Mandela Museum with Michigan State University in the United States, opened a remarkable exhibition in Nelson Mandela’s home village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape.

The inspiration for Dear Mr. Mandela…Dear Mrs Parks: Children’s Letters, Global Lessons came from the hundreds of children around the world who wrote letters to Nelson Mandela and the late Rosa Parks, both internationally renowned for their work in human rights. The letters reveal why children revere Mandela and Parks and also highlight young people’s desires for guidance and understanding about life.

Dear Mr Mandela…Dear Mrs Parks highlights Nelson Mandela and Rosa Parks’ devotion to freedom, democracy and emancipation. The exhibition raises greater public understanding of the parallels in the struggles for equality and justice in the United States and South Africa through the letters of children.

Rosa Parks and Nelson Mandela shared many values and goals, and both cared deeply about youth. Mandela met Parks in Detroit, Michigan, in 1990 when Mr Mandela toured the United States after his release from prison.

The exhibition was developed when the Michigan State University Museum and the Nelson Mandela Museum were awarded one of the first four grants from a new programme of the American Association of Museums, Washington, DC, and the US Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, designed to strengthen connections between people in the US and abroad through museum-based exchanges.

“The exhibit encourages visitors – especially youth — to understand and be tolerant of diverse cultures and traditions, become aware of the ongoing struggle for human rights around the world, and recognise ways to honour individuals in their own families and communities who–like Mandela and Parks–have contributed, in large and small ways, to making a better world,” notes MSU Museum director C. Kurt Dewhurst, one of the exhibition’s organisers.

A replica of the exhibition opened in the United States in January 2010 on the occasion of Martin Luther King’s birthday..