Honorary Degree Citations

President Marx delivering his address.

Honorary Degree Citation
for Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela, as a young man, you believed that youth could change the world. You proved that you could, and that young men and women still can, as they always have done, even when we have forgotten.

As an elder, you made possible what seemed impossible. You brought forth peace and reconciliation, not by putting away the past, but by remembering it. Inspired by you and your countrymen and countrywomen, we in our own lives, our own country and our world, recognize, admire and seek after such large reconciliations. In the years of your lost prime, when the land of your fathers was very nearly rent apart by fear, we looked out from the mother city of Africa’s Cape to the island of your captivity, and the island of our hopes, where you were kept apart. And we dreamed that you would return, not as a martyr, but alive to lead us. As you promised, you did return.

Today, you remind us yet of youthful belief, of the faith we all share from our youth: that change of a great order is always possible, that our hopes may be realized, for they lie within sight, just over the waters, on the island of our dreams, that island from where we all travel, and from whence the possibilities for our salvation and our nobility must return to us, as you did.

By virtue of the authority vested in me by the Board of Trustees of Amherst College, I confer upon you the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa, with all the rights and privileges pertaining thereto.

Honorary Degree Citation for Graça Machel

image

Graça Machel, daughter and teacher of Africa, you, too, have proved that youth can change the world, as you did and have inspired thousands to do. You understand that education is our best hope of a better world, and as independent Mozambique’s first minister of education, you nearly quadrupled school enrollment. As war tore your country, leaving three-quarters of a million children killed and another quarter-million orphaned, you acted to prevent even further disaster, to heal and to create resources for people to learn how to heal.

Appointed by the United Nations Secretary General to chair a study of the impact of armed conflict on children, you issued a report to the United Nations and to the world, a call, from the heart, to stop the killing, to make the way safe for your country’s children, so that they might create its future. And you brought your heart, your learning, your wisdom and your energy to partnership with two other great leaders of Africa, Samora Machel and Nelson Mandela. You remind us, as disciples of learning and action, how love and commitment combine the personal and political, and of how, through love and commitment, we can change our hearts and our world.

By virtue of the authority vested in me by the Board of Trustees of Amherst College, I confer upon you the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa, with all the rights and privileges pertaining thereto.