The Allstate Foundation and “Facing History and Ourselves” will present a “Community Conversation” with South African Constitutional Court Justice Albie Sachs, the human rights activist known for his role in writing South Africa’s new constitution, and his life partner, Vanessa September, an architect.
They will discuss South Africa’s emerging democracy following the fall of apartheid, as well as their personal experiences during the peaceful transformation of the region.
The discussion is free and open to the public, and will be held on Monday, January 23, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the SGI World Culture Center, 525 Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica.
A civil rights lawyer and activist who began battling apartheid in the 1960s, Sachs was detained without trial twice, lived in exile from 1966-1990, and in 1988 was almost killed in a car-bombing planted by agents of South Africa’s security forces.
In 1994, President Nelson Mandela appointed Sachs to the South African Constitutional Court. He is the author of several books on human rights including The Jail Diary of Albie Sachs and The Soft Vengeance of a Freedom Fighter.
September is an urban architect who could only pursue her childhood dream to study architecture after the fall of apartheid. The couple will meet with policy makers, students, activists and community members in Chicago, Cleveland, Memphis, New York and San Francisco as well as in Los Angeles.
“Facing History and Ourselves,” an international educational and professional development organization, was given a grant by The Allstate Foundation for “Community Conversations,” a series of dialogues that are held across the United States with authors, scholars, filmmakers, and policy leaders and focus on civic engagement, individual and collective responsibility, and tolerance.
“The stories from South Africa deepen our understanding of the challenges of transforming a country divided by racial oppression into a multiracial democracy,” said Dan Alba, Los Angeles Regional Director of Facing History and Ourselves. “Understanding the responsibilities and opportunities individuals have for sustaining democracy is a key theme in a Facing History classroom. Our students have much to learn from South Africa’s transformation.”
“Facing History” reaches 1.6 million students worldwide each year. In Southern California, its curriculum is actively used in more than 145 public and independent schools in 36 school districts.