Statements by individuals on the death of Nelson Mandela

Written by MCJStaff   // December 6, 2013   // 0 Comments

In this Dec. 7, 2005, file photo, former South African President Nelson Mandela, 87, is in a jovial mood at the Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg, where he met with the winner and runner-up of the local “Idols” competition. South Africa’s president says, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, that Mandela has died. He was 95. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell, File)

The Young Democrats of America released the following statement after learning of President Nelson Mandela’s death yesterday.

“Today, the Young Democrats of America pause to remember a leader whose message of freedom and equality transcends race, age or national borders,” said Atima Omara, president of the Young Democrats of America. “We are greatly saddened by his passing but he lived a tremendous life to the benefit of others and to the great sacrifice of himself. But he continued to fight with the belief that a nation stands at its greatest height when it stands for equality, fairness, justice and opportunity for all.”


Omara is a first generation African immigrant and the first African American president of the Young Democrats of America.

“Mandela began his political activism as a young man and stands as an example for all that one person, regardless of age or status can do to change the arc of history,” added Omara.

James Lewis 

Issue Advocacy Director

The Young Democrats of America


As we mourn the loss of Nelson Mandela and celebrate his life, Race Forward President Rinku Sen writes: “Nelson Mandela’s death constitutes the enormous loss of a great man who deserves his rest. We were lucky to have him on this earth at this time, and his lessons of struggle, confrontation and love will never leave us.”

Rinku is available for interview, and is publishing an article this afternoon for Colorlines which will be available for reprint. Colorlines coverage of Mandela’s Legacy is available here:


Jon Richards statement on the passing of Nelson Mandela

MILWAUKEE – Representative Jon Richards released the following statement on the passing of Nelson Mandela.
“Nelson Mandela’s legacy lives on in all public servants who try to emulate his courage, leadership, and compassion. He inspired generations of people to work together to achieve solutions to problems people thought were unsolvable only a short time ago. I pray for him and offer my sincerest condolences to his family and those who had the privilege of knowing him.”



“I am honored to have encountered Nelson Mandela on several occasions. He changed human history and taught activists around the world that in order to legitimately further what is noble, you must actually be a noble person. Nelson Mandela personified someone that non-violently changed the course of world history with the democratization of South Africa. Everything humanly possible that could be done to someone other than killing them was done to him, yet he maintained his dignity and his determination. It is almost unthinkable what he endured and yet forgave. He taught us that you have to keep your eye on the prize, and that nothing you suffer is as important as the goals that you are fighting for. He showed us that you can change the course of human history without lowering yourself to human depravity.”


“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” Nelson Mandela

The Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) celebrates the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela, a true warrior and freedom fighter for the liberation of African people. His commitment to change was unwavering.

BAEO will strive to honor the legacy of Nelson Mandela by fighting harder to enable our children to engage in the practice of freedom. As we think about Nelson Mandela’s life, we reaffirm that we have no right NOT to fight harder every day for our children!

On this day and forever more, we honor the unyielding and never compromising Nelson Mandela.


AFT’s Weingarten and Johnson on the Passing of Nelson Mandela

WASHINGTON— Statement of AFT President Randi Weingarten and Secretary-Treasurer Lorretta Johnson on the passing of Nelson Mandela. 

“The lesson of Nelson Mandela’s life is that we do not have to accept the world as it is—we can remake it as it should be. We stand in awe of his long walk to freedom and the liberation struggle he led even from the Robben Island cell where he spent 18 of the 27 years he was imprisoned. The grand change in the history of his nation and the world that came when he vanquished apartheid has benefited millions of his fellow South Africans and others around the globe. His insistence on reconciliation rather than recrimination stands as an enduring gift of grace and courage to us all.  

“Nelson Mandela’s life and historic achievements continue to instruct us in today’s struggles for equity, civil rights and opportunity for all. His moral compass still provides direction to those efforts and will guide us for as long as we honor his memory and celebrate his legacy. 

“The American Federation of Teachers has a long and special connection with South Africa and its path to freedom and democracy. These range from AFT President Albert Shanker’s efforts to assist that nation’s multiracial teachers’ unions, to our HIV/AIDS programs in South African schools, to Share My Lesson’s partnership with The Weinstein Company in promoting lessons associated with the film “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.”


Conyers Honors the Life of Nelson Mandela, Champion of Peace & Equality


(WASHINGTON) – Today, following news of the passing of former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) delivered the following message to his family:

“With the passing of Nelson Mandela, we have lost an individual who not only freed his home of South Africa from racial hatred, but inspired the world to peacefully resist injustice and intolerance. We will forever remember Nelson Mandela as the wonderful man and courageous leader who ended apartheid at home and changed the course of human history for all. Unbowed by racial animosity and decades behind bars, Nelson Mandela was a revolutionary force for nonviolence and justice,” said Conyers.

“I still remember the humble man that visited Detroit, just months following his release from prison, to organize for his political movement in South Africa and speak with Rosa Parks. And I will always treasure the memories I have, just four short years later, of the voyage I made with President Clinton and Harry Belafonte to attend Nelson Mandela’s installation as President of South Africa.

“While we mourn his passage, we know that Madiba’s legacy of fighting for freedom and independence will live on.”


Rep. Mandela Barnes’ statement passing of Nelson Mandela


MADISON—Representative Barnes released the following statement today in recognition of the passing of Nelson Mandela:

Today the world lost a hero, and a champion for equality and justice. His message of peace has not only forever changed South Africa, but enhanced world diplomacy, and been an inspiration for millions around the planet, including myself.

I want to extend my deepest condolences to Mandela’s family, friends, and to the entire South African community. Though we’ve known for some time that his health was fragile, nothing could have prepared us for the enormous loss the world has suffered today. The spirit of Nelson Mandela will live throughout the world for an eternity.

It wasn’t until I was a young adult that I truly realized the significance of the namesake that my parents had given me. To this day, a particular quote of Mandela’s continues gives me inspiration; ‘It always seems impossible until it’s done.’”


Gwen Moore Mourns Nelson Mandela


Washington, DC (LINK– Today, Congresswoman Gwen Moore (WI-04) released this statement after learning that Nelson Mandela had passed.

“Today we have lost a visionary leader and hero for human rights. Nelson Mandela broke the chains of oppression in South Africa and opened the hearts and minds of millions. His life’s journey serves as an inspiration to all those who strive to create a more just world. He reaffirmed to all that hope and a steadfast dream of freedom will prevail over hatred and fear.  


“His courage and strength freed a nation and reshaped our history. In 2005, I had the honor and blessing of meeting this remarkable man. It was a powerful moment that left an indelible mark.

“Though no words can wholly console those who mourn, my thoughts and prayers go out to every person touched by his kind spirit and resolve. May his legacy live on today and always.”


Congresswoman Lee on Nelson Mandela’s Passing

Washington, D.C.— Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) issued the following statement on the passing of former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela: 

“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Nelson Mandela, and my thoughts and prayers go out to his friends, family, and the people of South Africa. His legacy will live on forever in how we live our lives and fight for freedom and justice in a multi-racial society. We must pause and remember Madiba in his greatness; he used his life not for himself, but for the good of his country and the good of the world, and his spirit will live on. 

“Even throughout his 27 years of incarceration and brutal treatment, his spirit was never broken and this stands as a testament to the power of reconciliation. Not only is Nelson Mandela the father of the liberation movement in South Africa, but he also laid the framework for modern liberation movements throughout the world. With a dignified defiance, Nelson Mandela never compromised his political principles or the mission of the anti-apartheid movement, fighting the global AIDS pandemic, ending poverty and preserving human rights.  

“During Mr. Mandela’s trip to the United States in 1990, it was a great honor to be a member of the host committee that welcomed him to my district of Oakland, California.  One of my proudest moments as a member of Congress was when I led the effort to remove Mr. Mandela and the ANC from the U.S. Terrorist Watch list in time for his 90th birthday.  I served as an official election observer for the 1994 South African elections when President Mandela was first elected, and it was a magnificent reminder that perhaps one day my own country would elect an African American president.

“Mr. Mandela exuded a larger-than-life presence and a humble spirit that was remarkable; he is my hero and an inspiration to us all. While this earth will miss the physical presence of Nelson Mandela, his indomitable nature, his gentle spirit, and overwhelming smile will remain with us all. My heart is heavy as we mourn the loss and celebrate the life of this great warrior.”   


NAACP Statement on Nelson Mandela’s Passing


(Baltimore, MD) – The NAACP released the following statements following the death of Nelson Mandela:

Roslyn Brock, Chairman of the NAACP Board of Directors:

“The Honorable Nelson Mandela embodied the hopes, dreams, aspirations and values of all who seek justice against tremendous odds. He responded to unfathomable violence with peace and courage, and in doing so he forever changed the world.”


Dr. David Emmanuel Goatley, Chairman of the International Affairs Committee of the NAACP Board of Directors:

“Nelson Mandela’s legacy remains an inspiration for the work of the NAACP. In Mandela’s name we must continue to bring attention to all aspects of global apartheid characterized by poverty, inequality, discrimination, and prejudice of all kind.”


Bill Lucy, member of the NAACP National Board of Directors and labor leader:

“The world has lost one of the great statesmen of our time – a man who spent 27 years in prison because he believed in the cause of equality. His loss should set an example for political leaders still here, that there is a need to lead and govern in a manner that is equitable to all people.”


Lorraine Miller, Interim NAACP President and CEO:

“President Mandela was humanity’s greatest living hero. His unwavering sense of justice and peace transformed a nation and inspired the world.”


Loss of Nelson Mandela felt in Milwaukee, worldwide


Statement of Alderman Joe Davis, Sr.

December 5, 2013


As Honorary Consul to the Republic of South Africa from the State of Wisconsin, I am deeply saddened to hear of President Nelson Mandela’s passing today. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, and I send my deepest regrets to the people of South Africa, who today lost their greatest leader.

President Mandela was a man whose convictions were tested beyond the bounds of comprehension, and he emerged from his trials more resolute where lesser men—many men—would have given up hope. He was a shining example to us all, not only as an inspiring beacon of courage, but as a lesson in forgiveness as well. His like will not be seen again for some time, and he will be sorely missed.

 Rest in peace, Madiba.


DNC Blog: The life, legacy and lessons of Nelson Mandela

By Donna Brazile, DNC Vice Chair

Today, as we mourn the loss of of one of history’s most transformational leaders, let us also pay tribute to his life and legacy. Let us dedicate ourselves to remembering his lessons and continue his efforts to spread Democracy, freedom and equality across the globe.  

Nelson Mandela was a civil rights activist, teacher, freedom fighter, “Father of the Nation,” political prisoner, father, husband and an inspiration to the entire global community. He fought for Democracy, not only in his own home of South Africa, but across the world. He explained: “To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” 

Years after organizing against Apartheid in front of the South African Embassy in Washington, I first had the honor of meeting Mr. Mandela in 1993 when I escorted him to President Clinton’s Inaugural event at the D.C. Armory. A year later, I went to South Africa to help train election workers and had the privilege of meeting him again.  

Like so many others fighting for progress, I have drawn inspiration from Nelson Mandela. He showed us that it was possible to create lasting change, peace and stability even in the most formidable circumstances. He was an advocate for the downtrodden and believed that, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” 

President Obama and the First Lady said it best, “Nelson Mandela’s personal story is one of unbreakable will, unwavering integrity and abiding humility.” He has, “changed the arc of history, transforming his country, continent and the world.” 

Madiba, today and forever, we will remember you — and your legacy will live on. 


Hoyer Statement on the Passing of 
Former President Nelson Mandela

WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement on the passing of Nelson Mandela, the former President of South Africa:

“Throughout his life, Nelson Rolihlahla  Mandela met the purveyors of injustice, intolerance, and racism with an unyielding determination to forge a better and fairer future for his beloved nation.  From joining the anti-apartheid movement, the African National Congress, and serving 27 years behind the bars of Robben Island as a political prisoner to his groundbreaking tenure in office and later advocacy on behalf of victims of HIV/AIDS, President Mandela stood ever firm for the principles of justice, democracy, equal rights, and peaceful co-existence.  Embracing a strategy of non-violent mass resistance, he helped ushered South Africa out from the shadows of apartheid into a new day of freedom, democracy, and hope. 

“He will be missed not only by the people of South Africa, with whom I join in mourning their beloved Madiba, but by Americans of every color and faith, including the many who worked tirelessly from afar to call attention to the injustice and brutality of apartheid, to protest his unjust imprisonment, and to boycott the evil system he struggled to overturn.  President Mandela’s legacy will be not only one of toppling apartheid but ensuring that it was replaced not by bitterness and division but by reconciliation and a shared commitment to the rights of all South Africans.  Our world will surely be a lesser one without President Mandela walking among us, but our future has been made ever greater by the legacy he leaves indelibly printed in our hearts.”   


the death of Nelson Mandela

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