Historical Figure & Event

Celebrate Mandela Day today.

July 18
Calendar Activity Type
Historical Figure & Event

Event Description

In 2009, the United Nations declared July 18 Mandela Day, an international day of honor for former South African President Nelson Mandela.  Also his birthday, Mandela Day invites everyone, particularly young people, to take action to promote peace and combat social injustice.  According to the official Mandela Day website, Mandela Day "was inspired by a call Nelson Mandela made [in 2008], for the next generation to take on the burden of leadership in addressing the world's social injustices when he said that 'it is in your hands now'."

Classroom Activity

Familiarize students with Mandela's life and legacy by reading aloud Kadir Nelson's Coretta Scott King Honor book, Nelson Mandela.  Share the illustrations and stop frequently for questions and discussion of Mandela's early life, determination to change social conditions in apartheid-era South Africa, and eventual presidency.  Fill in any gaps with resources from the biographical websites below.

Then explain the purpose and mission of Mandela Day before inspiring students to brainstorm their call to social action by sharing the Take Action page from the Mandela Day website.  There, students will see examples of service projecs around the key themes of awareness building, food security, literacy and education, service and volunteerism, and shelter and infrastructure.

Invite students, as a class or in small groups, to determine a project they can undertake, using resources such as the Letter Generator, Printing Press, and Persuasion Map to plan and publicize their contribution to a more just world.


This site provides a gallery of past and current Mandela Day projects as well as resources for teachers to support students' participation in the Day.

From Mandela's official site, this biography contains text, images, video, sound files and primary source documents to tell the story of his life.

This BBC resource features a timeline with key events, photographs, and videos.

Resouces on this Biography.com on this page are categorized into "In the News" and "History & Culture."

This three-minute video from Time.com further develops Mandela's biography.

Slate.com offers this collection of annotated photographs of Mandela's life.

Related Resources