Mandela's forebears

In honoring Nelson Mandela, it's important that we not overreach and create a single, bowdlerized hero of the antiapartheid movement. We should never let the master narrative about this great man blind us to the work of others in a much larger freedom struggle that began before him and will continue.

That freedom struggle included Robert Sobukwe, a South African dissident and founder of the Pan Africanist Congress, who in 1960 coordinated a major act of civil disobedience by having blacks present themselves for arrest at police stations. During this demonstration, 69 protesters were massacred at Sharpeville, providing damning evidence to the world of how far the white-run government was willing to go to maintain the racial order. And we should not forget that women, too, played an essential role, such as Lillian Ngoyi, one of the founders of the Federation of South African Women, who in 1965 led a march with Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa, Sophia Williams-De Bruyn, Albertina Sisulu, Bertha Gxowa, and 20,000 other women to protest apartheid-regime laws requiring the carrying of passbooks, a legal tool used to restrict black South Africans' movement, regulate and maintain segregation, and weaken unions.

Saalim Abdul Carter, Washington,

Sound investment

Your editorial critical of the legislative process misses the point of the badly needed transportation infrastructure funding bill recently passed by a bipartisan coalition of the General Assembly ("A political toll for road funding," Dec. 4). Decades of underinvestment and inaction have caused Pennsylvania's transportation infrastructure to literally deteriorate, with thousands of miles of road in need of constant repair and 6,500 structurally deficient bridges. Most importantly, potential transit service reductions were threatening the mobility of some 70 percent of Center City's workforce and risked bringing the region's economy to a halt. I applaud lawmakers for passage of a comprehensive funding solution to improve safety and mobility in our region. This investment will ensure a safe and efficient transportation network that will help reduce travel times, increase reliability, and lead to greater economic productivity.

Rob Wonderling, president and chief executive officer, Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce

Corbett's flawed Rx

In his bid to pretend he cares about getting Pennsylvanians affordable health care, Gov. Corbett proves that he still believes in the failed trickle-down theory ("Corbett's plan on uninsured stirs concern," Dec. 6). Like a sideshow huckster, his sales pitch to use Medicaid dollars to expand coverage may sound good, but the devil is in the details. He's selling snake oil. Expanding Medicaid instead would cover Pennsylvanians and create more jobs - a win-win for everyone.

Karl Kofoed, Drexel Hill

Pinelands threat

South Jersey residents need to stand up in defiance of the proposed pipeline through the Pinelands. Our densely populated state already has a multitude of pipelines, and there is no need to compromise the last tract of real wilderness. The Pinelands Commission is being offered $7.25 million for easements and an additional $500,000 for an environmental education center. I guess the commission can house all the ousted, endangered wildlife in the new educational center.

Michael Coon, Medford Lakes,

Playing it safe

I simply don't get the controversy over whether city employees and officials should accept gifts ("City's great ethics debate," Nov. 29). When I first took a federal job a long time ago, I set a simple rule: Don't take anything . . . from anyone . . . anywhere . . . ever. I had no difficulty interpreting that rule during my 45 years in public service.

Francis W. Hoeber, Philadelphia