Courage and Hope

Eight-year-old Allan Boesak Jr. was lifted up onto a chair so he could see over the large podium in the Georgetown University auditorium in Washington, D.C. His eyes were big and bright, and he grinned broadly as the crowd in the filled-to-capacity hall gave him a thunderous standing ovation. "My daddy is not afraid of the South African government," proclaimed the young boy, "and neither am I!"

Dorothy Boesak and her son were in town on November 20, 1985, to accept the 2nd annual Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award on behalf of husband and father Allan Boesak, who was denied a passport by the South African government. Winnie Mandela and Beyers Naude also received the award, but only Naude was able to attend the ceremony.

After young Allan finished his brief speech, Dorothy offered her own words of thanks before reading the words Allan Sr. had prepared for the occasion. Many of Allan's friends were in the audience that' day, and he was truly missed. Dorothy was radiant, and my reunion with her was a great delight.

This was my first occasion to see Allan Jr., though his proud parents had often told me about him. The pride and courage of that little boy was even more evidence to me of the inevitability of freedom for South Africa. It was a moment that will no doubt be vividly etched in the memory of Allan Jr. for the rest of his life. I know I won't soon forget it.

Sitting there, I recalled a conversation with Allan and Dorothy two years before in August 1983. Allan was in town to speak at the 20th Anniversary March on Washington, which commemorated the historic 1963 march in which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made his "I Have A Dream" speech. Dorothy had joined Allan for the trip, and it was her first visit to the United States. After all the activities ended, Allan, Dorothy, and I spent a day together. I remember it as a very personal and special time.

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