With Thursday's passing of Nelson Mandela the world lost a hero, a visionary and an educator.
The list of profound, insightful quotes attributed to Mandela is long and dignified. Among our favorites is this short yet pithy sentence: Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.
Here's a link to a speech in which Mandela made that remark, which has been cited countless times since - everywhere from high school essays to United Nations position pieces.
What Mandela understood and succinctly put into words is that true change can't come unless the public knows what is happening, why it is happening and what change is possible.
Education leads people from poverty. Education leads nations away from injustices like apartheid. Education leads to cultural understanding, preventing war.
Mandela's influence on the world can not, and should not, be denied. He is rightly looked upon as a hero in Africa and beyond. The power and grace with which he overcame 27 years of prison to eventually become the president of the country that imprisoned him will be documented in history books and revered by humanity for years to come.
Most of those books will focus on his struggle which is worthy of volumes. But his simple statement about the essential role education plays in correcting injustices may be judged to be the most important words ever postulated by a man who valued the precision and power of language.
To learn more about Mandela's struggles and beliefs, take a moment to visit NelsonMandela.org. Celebrate the life of a man who truly changed the world, and learn how you, too, can make an impact through education.