Suppose that the year is 1958; you live in South Africa—and you are black. Your home is a two-room shanty on five acres in a rural area where in a good year, if you work hard, you can earn about $60. It is government land, not yours. You may be ordered to leave at any moment for any reason.

You carry a pass that identifies you by name and race, and records every trip you have made more than a few miles from home. Your pass allows you to work, but only at the lowest types of physical labor. Jobs are assigned by race. You may marry but also only within your own race. If you find work in a city, you cannot bring your family with you; you eat and sleep with other workers in male dormitories on the edge of town. When you leave your work, after six months, to visit your family, you are quickly replaced. If you visit a town, you may stay only 72 hours. Your pass will note your entry and exit times. If you overstay, you may be arrested, questioned, or beaten.

You may not vote. You may not speak to the press. Your tribe used to elect a chief who settled local disputes; now your "chief" is a white government official, and you've never met him. Your children must leave your home the day they turn 18. Your younger children go to school, but it is a "Bantu school" where they learn to work, not read. You do not have enough to eat—ever. One out of three of your children dies of malnutrition before reaching the age of one.

This was Albert Lutuli's world when he was around 60. But Lutuli did not explode with violent hatred as did so many black South Africans in the next generation. Instead, he led his people into organized, nonviolent resistance, which eventually tumbled apartheid (government-sponsored racial separation) into oblivion. His ...

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