News and Events

Past Events

PHI Salon Night: "War"

On the heels of Veteran's Day, the theme for this salon, held on Thursday, November 15, 2012, was war and our guest speakers were Irmgard and Kenneth Bryant. A longtime Weston resident, Irmgard was born in Germany and grew up during the rise of Hitler and World War II. Irmgard uses her experience to discuss, in an open-dialogue (often with young people), the ways in which war happens, escalates, and the role played by the local populace in atrocities like the Holocaust.

Guest speakers Irmgard and Kenneth Bryant

Noted Journalist and Author Spoke on Nelson Mandela

The Spellman Museum of Stamps & Postal History in collaboration with the Public Heritage Institute presented on Wednesday, October 10th at 7:00 pm the award winning journalist and author Charlene Smith. She discussed her two books on Nelson Mandela. Smith, currently a resident of Cambridge, published an authorized biography of Mandela entitled Mandela, In Celebration of a Great Life in 1999 and her latest book, Mandela and America was published this September.

From left to right: Katina Fontes, Daphnie Desir, guest speaker Charlene Smith, and Aniesha Andrews

In 1991 when Mandela was released after 27 years in jail, Smith, who was then a prominent political journalist in South Africa, helped find accommodation for his second night of freedom. She was also the only journalist to interview him four times in his first week of freedom. A firm friendship developed between the elder statesman and the young journalist. In 1999, Mandela and his entire family attended the launch of Smith's authorized biography, Mandela: In Celebration of a Great Life. That book has been a consistent best-seller and was dramatically revised, and added to, before being re-released in June, 2012.

Some years back Mandela also asked Smith to compile a book on his relationship with the United States, and also some of the many ways in which U.S. citizens contributed to freedom from racial oppression in South Africa, and also helped rebuild that country after democratic elections in 1994. That book gives some insight into Mandela's close relationships with Presidents George H. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Smith is recognized as an authority on southern African politics, and on Mandela. She also has significant expertise in HIV and AIDS, reporting on violent conflict, and counseling those who have experienced violent trauma. She has authored 14 books and has worked for the Los Angeles Times, CBS 60 Minutes, ABC Nightline, CBS Radio, and Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as a documentary film-maker.

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