As people around the world mourn the death of Nelson Mandela, one Indiana University professor shares Mandela’s influence on Indiana.
Alex Lichtenstein is an associate professor of history at IU who researches South African-US relations, as well as the South African labor movement.
Lichtenstein says one Indiana politician helped end apartheid in South Africa.
“The Indiana connection is very very clear, and that’s because one of the key figures in the Senate who helped bring over moderate Republicans to over-ride Reagan’s veto of the anti-apartheid bill that passed in the 80s was Richard Lugar,” Lichtenstein said.
Lugar, who was a U.S. Senator from Indiana and head of the Foreign Relations committee at the time, was the chief sponsor of the bill that urged the president to put more pressure on the Pretoria Government of South Africa to end apartheid. The override of the veto passed in 1986. As New York Times originally reported on Oct. 2, 1986:
Senator Richard G. Lugar, the Indiana Republican who heads the Foreign Relations Committee and was the chief sponsor of the measure, appealed in emotional terms to Pretoria to heed the action taken by Congress.
”As a friend of that Government we are saying wake up!” he said.
Lugar was not available for comment, but said in a statement, “One of the brightest moments of my public service came on the day of a luncheon in the U.S. Capitol building when Nelson Mandela personally thanked me and those who had supported my anti-apartheid legislative framework for U.S. foreign policy over a presidential veto.”