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News and Speeches

Mayor Bloomberg Announces Creation of New High School – The Nelson Mandela School for Social Justice


School will be Located in the Boys and Girls High School campus in Brooklyn that Mandela Visited in 1990

NYC Service to connect New Yorkers with Community Service Projects in honor of Nelson Mandela 

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott today announced the creation of the Nelson Mandela School for Social Justice, a new high school that will be located in the Boys and Girls High School campus that Nelson Mandela visited in 1990, just months after he was released from serving 27 years of a life sentence for political offences in South Africa. The school, which would open in September 2014, will be named for the former president of South Africa, Nobel Peace Prize winner and transformative global figure devoted to democracy, equality and education, who passed away yesterday. To further honor the legacy and work of Nelson Mandela, Mayor Bloomberg announced New Yorkers can help honor Nelson Mandela’s legacy through community service this weekend. Through the City’s comprehensive volunteer initiative, NYC Service, New Yorkers can connect to service projects across the five boroughs and share their experiences and commitment on Twitter using the hashtag #ServeMandela. The Panel for Education Policy will vote on the proposal to create the Nelson Mandela School for Social Justice at its December 11th meeting.
“Equal opportunity and access to education were among the many things Nelson Mandela spent his life fighting for,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “President Mandela once said ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’ Renaming the campus he visited shortly after his release from prison, will forever serve as a reminder that our mandate as public servants is to provide our children with the weapons they need for a successful future and help us build a City of inclusion and opportunity that Madiba could be proud of.”

“Nelson Mandela visited this building not long after he was released from prison, and we want to ensure that the special bond between the students and this legendary figure will live forever,” said Schools Chancellor Walcott.  “Every time they enter and exit its doors, our students at this new school will be reminded of the values he personified. A school that bears his name will encourage our students to demonstrate courage, overcome obstacles, and embrace community. His legacy will forever live on in New York City schools, and I hope our students will reflect on, grow from, and emulate this extraordinary man.”

Nelson Mandela was born on July 18, 1918, in Mveso, Transkei, South Africa. He was actively involved in the anti-apartheid movement at an early age and went on to direct a campaign of peaceful, non-violent defiance against the South African government. He was subsequently arrested and imprisoned for political offenses and remained a prisoner for 27 years until his release in 1990. Three months after his release in June 1990, Mandela visited New York City where he was greeted by hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers at Boys and Girls High School in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, followed by a ticker-tape parade down the Canyon of Heroes in Lower Manhattan and a welcome ceremony at City Hall hosted by Mayor David M. Dinkins. In 1993, Mandela and South African President F.W. de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to dismantle the South Africa’s apartheid system. The following year Mandela was inaugurated as South Africa’s first black and first democratically-elected president.  In 2002, Mandela returned to City Hall for a ceremony kicking off the Tribeca Film Festival to support New York City in the wake of the September 11th attacks.  In May 2005, Mayor Bloomberg presented Nelson Mandela with a Key to the City, for his commitment to fight inequality and promote peace around the world. 

In 2009, the United Nations declared Mandela’s birthday, July 18th, as Nelson Mandela International Day to promote global peace and celebrate the South African leader’s legacy. The motto of Mandela Day “Take Action; Inspire Change; Make Every Day a Mandela Day,” aims to encourage and inspire individuals and groups to take action to help change the world for good and empower communities around the world. In honor of his passing, NYC Service will provide a centralized resource of community and volunteer organizations planning service events where residents can give back to their communities. Volunteer opportunities can be found on www.nyc.gov. 

About Boys and Girls High School

Boys and Girls High School, the oldest public high school in Brooklyn, is a comprehensive high school in Bedford–Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York. Brooklyn’s first public high school, the Central Grammar School opened in September 1878 in a rented building on Court & Livingston Streets. A new building was planned on the east side of Nostrand Avenue between from Halsey and Macon Streets, designed by Superintendent of Buildings James W. Naughton, but by the time it opened in 1886, enrollment had increased to the point where it was decided to use this building as the girls’ high school and to and build a separate building for the boys. The boys remained in the Court Street space. As there were now effectively two schools, in 1891 they were renamed as the Girls’ High School and the Boys’ High School. A new building for the boys was begun in 1891, on Marcy Avenue, between Madison Street & Putnam Avenue. It opened as Boys High School on November 1, 1892. In 1975, the two schools were merged once again and shortly afterwards moved into their present building at Fulton Street and Utica Avenue.