Alan Paton's Contribution
Alan Paton was a white South African who grew to see the danger of oppressing blacks. He realized that in the process of racial segregation in South Africa, everyone lost the home they loved. For instance, a family made up of a black woman, a white man and mixed-race children were forced to live apart from one another to achieve racial purity. Even whites lost the freedom to choose their homeland. Cry, the Beloved Country helped white South Africans see their country and all the people of South Africa in a new way. It showed them—clearly and honestly—the potential dangers of this enforced "separateness" for all races. It also turned the world's eye to a nation at conflict with itself and gave the world a context for South Africa's troubles. In 1960, Paton was awarded the prestigious Freedom Award for his anti-Apartheid work and appeared in court in 1964 on behalf of Nelson Mandela. Paton was courageous in speaking out against what he felt was wrong. He did not turn away. He lived a passionate life and believed in the decency of the common man. One of Paton's favorite quotes, and the way he gave a context to his own contribution, was he felt he "did the best of things in the worst of times." For Paton, this meant strength—to rise to the occasion. That is something Alan Paton certainly did during his lifetime and left as his legacy.


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