As the son of Canadian immigrants from Barbados, Capitals right wing Joel Ward was taught the lessons of tolerance and acceptance while still standing up for what he believed in.
Those are the qualities Ward shared on Friday when asked about the passing of civil rights activist Nelson Mandela, who died at the age of 95 on Thursday.
“You have to respect the man for what he’s done and what he believed,” Ward said. “I mean, the man essentially went to jail for 27 years for something he believed in. I think it’s very important to share with my kids – when I have them - so that when they grow up they know what people gave up to create opportunities for my parents and grandparents and even for myself to be here today playing hockey.”
Ward, who wears the No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson, said he remembers learning in school about Mandela, his 1962 imprisonment for conspiracy to overthrow the South African government, his 1990 release from prison and his rise to power as the first black South African president from 1994-99.
“It’s an unbelievable story on civil rights and fighting for what you believe in,” Ward said. “Fighting through that over that course of time is very tough for an individual. Anyone who is an activist for civil rights shows a lot of character and ambition and guts to believe we’re all equal and we all have rights.”