To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the visit to Montreal by the late African National Congress (ANC) leader and President of South Africa Nelson Mandela (which happened in the same year he was released from a South African prison after 27 years of incarceration), a special mural was unveiled during a ceremony at the Union United Church on November 16.
Entitled “Long Walk to Freedom” (which shares the title of Mandela’s best selling memoir), the mural was a joint project of the church (where the mural was painted on one of its exterior walls, located on Atwater at the corner of Delisle Street), the Round Table on Black History Month and MU, a charitable organization with a mission to transform Montreal’s public spaces through the creation of original murals throughout its many communities.
Painted by visual artist Franco Egalite, along with the assistance Kevin Ledo, the mural celebrates Mandela’s 3 ½-hour visit to Montreal on June 19, 1990, as part of his global recognition tour. During that whirlwind visit, Mandela visited the Union United Church, had an audience with then-Montreal Mayor Jean Dore, and spoke to a crowd of 20,000 people who gathered at the Place Champ-de-Mars. Montreal was one of the chosen cities for Mandela’s tour due to the fact that it was one of the first cities in the world to fervently campaign against apartheid, a system of government racial segregation in South Africa that Mandela spent most of his life fighting for its abolishment.