South African Constitutional Court Justice and human rights activist Albie Sachs, who spent his life and nearly died in struggles against the Apartheid regime, is scheduled to give a lecture and conduct a community conversation on South Africa’s emerging democracy at 7 p.m. Monday, January 23rd, at the SGI World Cultural Center, 525 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica. Admission is free.
Sachs is most recognized for his role in creating South Africa’s new constitution.
Joining Sachs in the event will be his life partner Vanessa September, an urban architect who was permitted to study and become an architect only after the fall of Apartheid.
The two are expected to relate anecdotes and tell personal stories of the peaceful transformation of South Africa to an emerging democracy.
Sachs suffered deeply in his decades of struggle against Apartheid. A civil rights lawyer and anti-Apartheid activist since the 1960s, Sachs was detained without trial twice and lived in exile from 1966 to 1990.
He was badly maimed in a 1988 car-bombing assassination attempt by agents of South Africa’s security forces that destroyed his right arm and left him blind in one eye.
In 1994, President Nelson Mandela appointed Justice Sachs to the South African Constitutional Court. Sachs is the author of several books on human rights including The Jail Diary of Albie Sachs and The Soft Vengeance of a Freedom Fighter.
Sachs and September have written much about the process of healing and rebuilding, including the symbolic transformation of Johannesburg’s notorious Old Fort Prison into Constitution Hill.
Sachs and September are currently on a lecture tour, meeting with policy makers, students, activists and community members in Chicago, Cleveland, Memphis, New York and San Francisco in addition to Santa Monica.
The tour is part of “Community Conversations,” a series of community dialogues scheduled across the United States by the nonprofit group Facing History and Ourselves, featuring prominent authors, scholars, filmmakers and policy leaders who speak about civic engagement, individual and collective responsibility and tolerance.
Facing History and Ourselves is an international educational and professional development organization. The organization was awarded a grant by the Allstate Foundation, making the lecture series possible.
Started in 1976, Facing History and Ourselves has been providing resources to teachers in different nations in order for students to become aware of historical decisions and attitudes that led to group hatred and violence.
The group says it reaches about 1.6 million students each year through its seven regional offices and international partnerships and has been working on creating and promoting a curriculum about the Nazi Holocaust and Apartheid to be taught in South African schools.
In Southern California, the group’s curriculum is used in approximately 145 public and private schools, according to the Facing History and Ourselves.
Information, (310) 451-8811.