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Pictured above from left to right, President Nelson Mandela, Senator William Owens, and Alphonse Mourad. Click on their pictures to link to their information.
Mourad founded V & M Management, Inc, which owned the Mandela Development complex, which consists of 22 buildings on 6.5 acres of prime Boston land and 276 residential units, which houses approximately 1,500 minority tenants. This complex which is comprised of 98% African Americans and Hispanics, had been renamed in 1987 to Mandela, after former President Nelson Mandela, the great freedom fighter against apartheid.
Mourad's plan was to build a new, multicultural community over thirty acres of land that was owned by the Boston Redevelopment Authority and the City of Boston. He would rehabilitate the housing and offer its current residents and other working class poor, the right to much more than affordable housing - he would offer them home ownership.(For detailed information refer to the website "History" button).
BEACON OF HOPE: Mayor Ray Flynn presents a lantern to Nelson and Winnie Mandela at Airport yesterday as Gov. Michael Dukakis and Sen. Edward Kennedy join in welcoming the ANC
Day of pride, hope for Boston's own Mandela movement
By GARY WITHERSPOON
Winnie Mandela delighted Roxbury residents yesterday when she pointed out the Man-dela housing complex as she stood before awed spectators at Roxbury's Madison Park High School. "I wonder if you come from there," she inquired of over 1.000 people who had spilled onto the football field outside the school, where the freedom-fighting duo. Nelson and Win-nie, appeared briefly.
Two thing's make the Boston stop special for the Mandela's: The 22-building Mandela complex named aftert the African National Congress leader, and the tact that a sector of the population has considered seceding from Boston and carving out a new city called Mandela.
Alphonse Mourad, owner of the complex, said the name was changed from West Minster Willard in 1986, during the de-bate over the proposed Incor-poration of Roxbury, Mattapan, as well as parts of Dorchester, the South End, Jamaica Plain and the Fenway into a 12.5-squarc-mile city. "The tenants decided we could no longer trust the city system, and we decided to reta-liate by naming it Mandela and supporting the incorporation," Mourad explained.
Changing the name was a blessing, Mourad asserted, because developers will not try to take over the property and displace its tenants because of the symbolism Mandela's name carries.
Andrew Jones, 38, an Inde-pendent documentary producer and photographer and also the man behind the secession movement, said he came up with the idea and founded the Greater Roxbury Incorporation Project (GRIP) in 1983 while working on a story on acid rain in New England for ABC News. Jones said he became fascinated by the "degree of control" of small town govern-ments' and asked himself, "If them, then why not us?"
After studying and meeting privately about the idea at the Harvard Faculty Club for two years, Jones and GRIP partner Curtis Davis, gathered 5,000 signatures,he couldn't see how anyone would oppose this. It represented a package of tools that we could use to solve our problems in this community, turn a ghetto into a city."
question on the November 1986 ballot -- although the word "Mandela" did not appear.
In 1986, voters In 142 of the city's 252 precincts were asked to consider seceding. The population of the affected area was about 160,000 -- 74 percent black, 10 percent Hispanic, and 16 percent other racial groups. But stiff opposition from City Hall and local church leaders made It a losing proposition. The question was defeated by a 3-1 margin.
"I was crushed," said Jones. "I put everything I had into it..." Now, both GRIP am are meeting to decide question should appear year's ballot. GRIP allowing to resolve a 5u against the state that w low the same question posed a third conscculi'
Whatever happens, said he is determined tinue the fight: "I'm di to my culture and my city. It's my civic duty liberate my community continue."
Following the loss, Sadiki Kambon formed Project FATE (Focusing Attitudes Towards Empowerment), for a more. grassroots approach to Independence.
In 1988, a similar referendum question lost by less than a 2-1 margin. But based on the decrease In the margin of de-
For immediate release....
To: All local/national media
Event: TENANT PRESS CONFERENCE
Re: Boston Officials Block Mandela Visit to Mandela
Development Time: 11:00 a.m.
Location: Mandela Development
1855 Washington Street Contact: Amy Port(Liberia), Sihde Donyen(Liberia),
Kayo Ajayi(Nigeria) Telephone: 445-0650
We, ihe African tenants at the Mandela Development, are holding this press conference to express our disappointment and dismay at the way we have been treated by officials of the city of Boston with regard to the first visit to this city by ANC Deputy President Nelson Mandela.
Three years ago we officially changed the name
of our development from West Minster Willard to Mandela inordcr to honor Nelson "Mandela and Winnie Mandela as well as many others who have fought against apartheid and for democracy.
At that time, April 1987, we presented a petition and registered the name. officially with the City of Boston and since that time the name Mandela has been adopted by everyone in the city and in the development. In July 1987 we held a party to celebrate the renaming of the building and Nelson Mandela's binhday. At the time Mr. Mandela bad been incaccratcd 25 years and we had no idea if and when he would be released from prison.
Since we were notified of Mr. Mandela's visit to Boston, we have repeatedly requested a visit to our development which happens to be the only building in the United Slates of America including Alaska and Hawaii named after Nelson Mandela. Coincidcntally this development has the highest number of African tenants of any subsidized development in the city of Boston.
We come from countries such Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Lcon, Cameroon, Kenya, Uganda and other African and arc most proud of the fact that Mr. Mandela is actually coming to Boston. In all fairness to representatives of the African National. Congress here in Boston have been extremely cooperative, attempting to help us but failing to surmount obstacles put in place by the city of Boston.
Our development is located in a predominantly Black pan of the city and the development itself. 22 buildings 1500 tenants is 98% Black and Hispanic. The owner, Alphonse Mourad, is Lebanese and has supported usl00% in our efforts.
Mr. Mourad went so far as to erect a sign in July 1987 spelling in giant leiiers M-A-N-D-E-L-A vertically on both sides of the building onl855 Washington structure in the United States displaying the proud and honorable name Mandela.
The purpose of our press conference is to draw attention to actions of the city of Boston which we feel arc hypocritical. They arc steering the Mandela motorcade away from the sign and away from the development and we don't like it. How can Mr. Mandela be allowed to visit any city and not visit the only building in that city and again in the country which bears him name? It is our belief that this action is unique to the city of Boston and warrants serious attention from all panics concerned.
We plead with the city to allow Mr. and Mrs. Mandela to pay a brief visit to the Mandela Development where on that day Saturday June 23, 1990 rain or shine, we will be holding a childrcns celebration in their honor. We will wear our traditional dress, feast on traditional food and dance traditional dance to traditional African music.
The press comference will be attended by 15 of our number who will explain the situation and answer questions.