“Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. You can be that great generation.”
We at the Office of Minority Health stand with the world in mourning the passing of Nelson Mandela, and honoring his truly transformative legacy. Even though he now belongs to the ages, his fight for civil rights and social justice will continue to galvanize our movement for equity. His ideals will endure; his words will live on. And his example will continue to light our way.
A prisoner who became a President, a freedom fighter who united a nation, a giant who led with courage and humility, President Mandela taught us that one voice can become an inflection point for sweeping change. He showed us that a nation can come together to face its most painful truths, and overcome its deepest wounds. He inspired us, in more ways than we can count, to believe that there are no limits to what we can do when we work together.
“To be free is not merely to cast off one's chains,” President Mandela once said, “but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others." As he invoked our highest aspirations, he reminded us that we as a people cannot aspire to greatness without also fulfilling our obligations to one another. From his vision we draw strength and hope as we move forward in our work to create a healthier more promising future for our most vulnerable and underserved communities.
Today, as we offer our condolences to the Mandela family, and to the people of South Africa, we also celebrate the life of a truly extraordinary man. We remember Nelson Mandela’s courage, his grace, and his unyielding belief that even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, a brighter tomorrow is within our reach. His dream of justice and equality for all is now ours to carry on, and bring to bear.
J. Nadine Gracia, MD, MSCE
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health
Director, HHS Office of Minority Health