Linda Biehl of California was the first Greeley Scholar for Peace Studies at UMass Lowell in 2008. She was on campus and in the community for three weeks, meeting people, talking, sharing her remarkable, inspiring, and challenging story. Her daughter was a casualty in the sometime violent struggle to end South Africa’s official system of racial discrimination. In 1993, Amy Biehl, 26, a Fulbright Scholar who was trying to do good in South Africa, was killed when her car was set upon by some angry local people. She was targeted because of her white skin.
Her family, her mother Linda in particular, credits Nelson Mandela with helping them make sense of Amy’s death and even forgive the young men who killed her. When she was with us at UMass Lowell, Linda shared her story and explained the journey she traveled in the years since Amy’s death. At her first appearance, she stunned the audience by appearing with one of the men, Ntobeko Peni. He now works on youth development programs for the Amy Biehl Foundation in South Africa.
Linda Biehl with two of the men, Ntobeko Peni, left, and Easy Nofemela, who confessed to killing her daughter, Amy. They were later granted amnesty by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa, established with the support of Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu. Linda Biehl and her husband, Peter, agreed to the amnesty, which freed the men from prison.