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April 13, 2018


For Immediate Release



Delivered by the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. in Soweto


The United States Congress passed a resolution honoring Queen Mother, Mama Winnie, our rock.

So did the United Nations.

The whole world is watching.

God, our hearts are heavy and sad. There is a hole where the heart used to be.

Yet, we are glad, overjoyed for the precious memories that we shared, and the gift of the rock.

God, you gave us a gift.

In Moses’ mother, you gave us a leader, who liberated us from bondage.

Mary, Jesus’ mother, you gave us a Savior.

In Winnie, you gave us the mother of a nation, a rock.

The big rock hides the weak from the storm.

The big rock is a source of water for the thirsty.

For the strong it is a platform.

For the weary, a place to rest.

For the lost, a landmark, a frame of reference.

It withstands the storms. No matter the weather it does not bend or break.

In the hell of apartheid some were consumed by the fire. Chris Hani, Steve Biko and so many others were killed.

Some exiled – Oliver Tambo…

Mama Winnie served in the heat of the fire, in the belly of the beast and would not go away.

She would not go away in relative comfort.

She sat bravely in the trial of her husband. She heard the court declare her children would never see their father again.

He was sentenced to life, banished to an island of the disappeared.

The public would not hear his voice or see his face.

She never escaped nor sought refuge. She was a big rock.

During the winter of apartheid, she fought to hold on to her natural children while giving birth to a new nation.

She raised her children without their father for 27 years.

She watched him go off to prison for life.

She survived isolation. Death threats. Character assassination.

She endured the pains.

Now there is a new South Africa.

Nelson separated from land by the waters, could almost see the bright lights of Cape Town. He served hard time in the mines. She served the hard time of isolation.

We are thankful for her character. Suffering breeds character. Character breeds faith. In the end, faith will prevail.

She and Madiba endured.

I will never forget that Sunday morning in 1990 in Cape Town, kings and queens, heads of state, maids and truck drivers, farmers and urban dwellers, the whole world stood in the waiting room of history and watched as Mama Winnie walked Madiba out of prison, the tombs of apartheid.

The world watched them walk out, freeing their jailers.

The Bible prophesized weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. What a morning.

For 27 years we had not seen the face of Nelson. Didn’t know if he would walk out, blinded by the salt in the mines or limping because of inadequate medical care.

We did not know how he would look.

We knew he was alive. The Mandela’s never lost a heartbeat.

The heartbeat was Winnie’s.

A new South Africa. A new face.

The maids beat the pots and pans. I was in Cape Town that morning.

I watched the maids jump for joy, beating pots and pans in the hallways.

I saw cab drivers pull their cabs to the curb, jump out, cheering and dancing along the side of the road.

Exiles came running home. Prisoners were set freed. Emancipation, a new life had been born.

Shouts of halleluiah.

The rock had served its function.

The rock of ages…

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Save me from its guilt and power.


A new nation had been born.

With Winnie we survived the rain, the dark, the storms, the terrors, the attacks, the pain, the rumors, now you can rest in peace Mama Winnie.

Through your strength a nation was born and healed.

When the honor roll of martyrs is called you are an honor graduate.

Christian faith did not end with death. It began with death.

Beyond the crucifixion is the Resurrection. A new hope. A new day.

It is fitting that Mama Winnie went to Good Friday services.

Her weary body forced her to leave during the 6th word.

She went home.

She went back to church on Easter Sunday.

Then at she left the table with her family.

She went home to the Lord.

This year, we commemorate 50 years since Dr. King’s living and dying.

And the 100th year since the birth of Nelson Mandela.

In the midst of that is Winnie, the rock.

Like Esther said, if I perish, let me perish. I’m going to fight for the people.

Winnie liberator, emancipator, freedom fighter.

We are healed by your stripes.

You were wounded by the transgressions of apartheid

But now the righteous judge has declared you were faithful in your assignment and He calls you up higher for your reward.

Thank God, Mamma Winnie came our way.





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Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a multi-racial, multi-issue, progressive, international organization that was formed in December 1996 by the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. through merging of two organizations he founded Operation PUSH  People United to Serve Humanity (estab. 1971) and the Rainbow Coalition (estab. 1984). With headquarters in Chicago and offices in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and Oakland, the organization works to make the American Dream a reality for all citizens while advocating for peace and justice around the world. RPC is dedicated to improving the lives of all people by serving as a voice for the voiceless. Its mission is to protect, defend and gain civil rights by leveling the economic and educational playing fields while promoting peace and justice around the world.





Communications Department 
Rainbow PUSH Coalition