Edwards Statement on the Passing of Nelson Mandela

 Washington, DC – Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards (MD-4) released the following statement today on the passing of former South African President Nelson Mandela.

“The world has lost an activist who battled apartheid, a fighter who overcame his own imprisonment, and a leader who formed modern South Africa based on equality for all. Nelson Mandela embodied the knowledge that our vision for a better world is best accomplished through non-violence, dialogue, and reconciliation. His lasting legacy is the belief that we must live free ‘in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.’

“It is my hope that as we mourn the passing of this great leader, we pursue courageously that vision and turn his legacy into a reality for all. My thoughts are with his family, friends, and the people of South Africa as their nation mourns the loss of its greatest son.”


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.”


Civil and Human Rights Coalition Mourns Loss of Nelson Mandela

Washington, D.C. – Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement in remembrance of the work and life of South African President Nelson Mandela:

“The loss of Nelson Mandela is felt around the world and with a particular resonance for those of us in the American civil and human rights movement.

As African Americans had begun walking into the sunshine of human rights with the passage of civil rights legislation in the 1960’s, Black South Africans were losing their citizenship and their right to vote, to live where they choose, and to seek quality education and health care.

Against this backdrop, American civil and human rights advocates turned our attention to apartheid in South Africa. Nelson Mandela emerged as the cauldron for our fire and our greatest hope that we could all one day be free from oppression.  We poured our hearts, our hopes, and our ambitions for freedom into organizing, educating, fundraising, and pursuing international pressure in support of his people’s just cause.  Mandela’s struggle, along with that of his countrymen, became ours. When apartheid finally ended, we were reminded yet again that an organized coalition in pursuit of justice can achieve great things.

President Mandela often spoke about how the sit-ins, marches, and demonstrations of the United States inspired his work. Yet, in the cycle of learning and dialogue, it would be Mandela’s fearless advocacy for peace in the face of prison, death, and torture that would inspire us.”

Wade Henderson is the president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its 200-plus member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.



Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), a senior member of Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a member of its Subcommittee on African Affairs, and Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, released the following statement on the passing of former South African President Nelson Mandela: 

“Humanity has lost one of its greatest leaders with the passing of Nelson Mandela.  My prayers go out to his family and all the people of South Africa. He was a personal hero of mine, and of those who work to uphold human rights around the world.  Ten thousand days in prison were not enough to break Mandela’s spirit and his devotion to the freedom of all people.  He led his nation not only in overcoming the divisions of racism, but in reconciling and healing.

“Mandela’s influence does not end with his passing.  His story and moral courage has changed countless lives forever. As he once said, ‘the true test of our devotion to freedom is just beginning.’  State and federal lawmakers across the U.S. looked to Mandela as an inspiration when crafting laws that mandated divestment from South Africa’s cruel Apartheid regime.  I had the privilege of serving as Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates when we passed such legislation.  Years later, our Nation is still striving to follow in Mandela’s footsteps and fully realize his dream of peace and equality for all of mankind ”


ANNAPOLIS, MD. (December 5, 2013) — Governor O’Malley released the following statement in light of the death of former South African President Nelson Mandela: 

“Today, my family and I join millions around the world in mourning the loss of one of the greatest heroes our planet has ever known. Nelson Mandela truly embodied what it means to be our brother’s keeper. At every turn, he demonstrated resilience in the face of remarkable odds and a fundamental belief in the dignity of every individual. 

His life is a testament to the power of one person to not only change the world, but bend the arc of history toward justice. Nelson Mandela taught us that freedom is a concept that can’t be contained within a prison cell or a continent. It’s a power that animated the human spirit around the globe and redeemed the promise of purpose in each and every one of us.

He leaves us a world that much better than the one he inherited, and a work that must be carried through generations and across the walls that separate us.”


Statement from ESSENCE Magazine Editor-in-Chief on the Passing of Nelson Mandela:

NEW YORK, Dec. 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — 

“Our hearts are heavy with the news of Nelson Mandela’s passing. The life of Nelson Mandela is a singular example of devotion and dignity in the face of unthinkable oppression. As a fearless ambassador for equality across the globe, his legacy is beyond measure.



Washington, DC – Dr. E. Faye Williams, National Chair of the National Congress of Black Women, Inc. delivered the following statement to the Ambassador of South Africa, H.E. Ebrahim Rasool, immediately after word that President Nelson Mandela had departed this life:

“On behalf of the National Congress of Black Women, Inc., I want to express our deepest sorrow on the passing of our much loved, admired, respected, courageous and revered President Nelson Mandela. He will never be forgotten. There is no need to explain to anyone who President Mandela was professionally. Everybody knows because his life spoke so well for him.

On a personal note, when I worked on Capitol Hill for the late Congressman Mervyn Dymally, Mr. Dymally made it possible for Bernadette Paolo, my colleague, and me to meet Mr. Mandela and Mrs. Winnie Mandela on their first visit to the United States after Mr. Mandela was released from prison.  His handshake and embrace were magic! His smile would melt the hardest of hearts. Like a school girl, I thought I would never again wash my hand that he had touched.  Of course, as time went on, I had to do just that, but I remained engulfed in the magic of that moment!

President Mandela was a man who understood the power of goodness, decency and forgiveness. He fully embraced and lived by these words. He leaves a magnificent example well worth the world’s emulation. My heart goes out to President Mandela’s family and the people of South Africa.  Thank you for sharing him with all of us.”


Former South African President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

The Association for the Study of African American Life and History mourns the loss of Nelson Mandela, a truly great figure in world history.  He rose from the ranks of the oppressed and led in the struggle against South Africa’s system of racial apartheid.  He demonstrated the courage and fortitude to withstand nearly three decades of solitary imprisonment and the humanity to lead his people and his multiracial nation down an unseen and unpredicted path of peace and reconciliation.  His life’s story now belongs to untold generations to come, for he represents the best of what we can become. 

Click here for the video of Nelson Mandela regarding the foundations that will carry on his work


Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Pays Tribute to Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

Philadelphia, PA – December 5, 2013 – As the world focuses its attention on the death of Nelson Mandela, who transitioned from this life on December 5, 2013 at the age of 95, members of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. join them and the people of South Africa who have lost the most significant leader of our time.

It was in the winter of 1964, that Nelson Mandela arrived on Robben Island where he would spend 18 of his 27 prison years. Confined to a small cell, the floor his bed, a bucket for a toilet, he was forced to do hard labor in a quarry. He was allowed one visitor a year for 30 minutes. He could write and receive one letter every six months. But Robben Island became the crucible which transformed him. Through his intelligence, charm and dignified defiance, Mandela eventually bent even the most brutal prison officials to his will, assumed leadership over his jailed comrades and became the master of his own prison. He emerged from it the mature leader who would fight and win the great political battles that would create a new democratic South Africa.

Nelson Mandela was not only the preeminent leader for social justice in South Africa, but his social justice advocacy encouraged peoples throughout the world to believe that in spite of oppression, degradation and blatant racism, there could be hope that went beyond our understanding.

According to William “Randy” Bates, Jr., Esq., chief executive officer of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, “Kappas throughout the world, including Kappa Alpha Psi members in South Africa mourn the death of the greatest leader of their time, who demonstrated in unimaginable terms the duty of oppressed people to persevere with a great sense of responsibility to their people, and a need to sacrifice our all to bring justice everywhere”.

Nelson Mandela was not a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, but he was one of the greatest achievers we ever knew, able to survive conditions and treatment that ordinary people would never be able to endure.

There’s a God that placed in Nelson Mandela a vision for his people, a strategy for achieving the reversal of one of the greatest systems of oppression, apartheid, and he did it in the most adverse circumstances.

Members of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Nelson Mandela, and dedicate ourselves to his model of achievement in every field of human endeavor. May he rest in peace.


Tommy Wells Reflects on Mandela

 (Washington, D.C.) – Last night, DC Councilmember Tommy Wells commented on the passing of Nelson Mandela:

“Our world has lost a singular champion for justice with the passing of Nelson Mandela. My deepest condolences go to the people of South Africa and all freedom loving people who have been inspired and changed by his life. 

“Nelson Mandela’s unwavering courage, conviction, and personal sacrifice in the fight for equal rights for all South Africans literally changed the course of history. He set the standard for all of us to fight for what is right, even when the risks are great.

“The world will miss Nelson Mandela, but we have been blessed by his long life among us.”


Reflections on the Life of Nelson Mandela
 Stephen Hayes, President and CEO of The Corporate Council on Africa

It is almost embarrassing to attempt to write commentary on the passing of Nelson Mandela. Millions of others have written their own commentary or will do so over the next few days. There will be so many commentaries that ultimately only a few will be widely read in an over-saturated market. Yet, it is almost obligatory to pay my respects and share my reflections on a great man whose life made such a dynamic contribution to South Africa and the world. 

We do not know all of Nelson Mandela’s thoughts while in a cell for twenty-seven years, we can only imagine his life as a child, a student, his first searing realization of the racism existing against him and millions of others when he was young. Some of us can only visualize how very painful that first realization must have been, and the anger that must have grown inside.

However, too many in this nation and around the world have experienced that first pain of the gods of evil called bias and hate. All of America should be grateful for Mandela and his example of forgiveness for without his example, what might race relations be like today?  

He must have had extraordinary parents to instill such wisdom and passion in the young man, and it was surely a tragedy for them to have seen him cast in prison and never have lived to see the results of his life. It would not have been surprising for Mandela to have among his regrets the fact that his parents didn’t live to see 1994. Now he is with them once again and perhaps he can tell them what it was like.

I met Nelson Mandela only once, during his last visit to the South African Embassy in Washington, DC, only shaking his hand along with at least a hundred or more others invited to the Embassy that day. I said nothing. He said hello and smiled and walked on through the crowd as it parted in his path as if Moses were parting the Red Sea.   

I only have heard the stories from those who were with Mandela, working under him, for him, with him, for nearly all his peers have passed as well. Many of those stories took place while Mandela was in prison, but yet they all worked for the unseen Spirit of Mandela. What an extraordinary force to have commanded that much faith and commitment to a man held captive for twenty-seven years. It was, of course, a commitment to a dream, and not the man, that brought about changes in South Africa, but would that dream have been the same without Mandela. I think not.

What I can say is that Mandela was one of the three greatest men of the twentieth century, along with Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. Given the conditions that surrounded Mandela, it seems ironic that he was the only one of the three not assassinated; so great was the officially sanctioned hate in South Africa. What a tragically different world we might now be facing had that been the case, and what a much better world this might have been had Gandhi and King both been able to live out their years. All three openly took on the greatest evil of their times, knowing full well of the possible consequences. Great politicians deal with the world as it is, but these three dealt with the world that could and should be and millions followed.  

Perhaps Mandela’s greatness and singularity was not only his leadership in a struggle, but the fact that once free, he became a great politician as well while still upholding fully the values for which he had spent a lifetime fighting. He never seemed to accept the world as it was and this made him the paradigm of all politicians as well.



Statement by A. Barry Rand, CEO, AARP on the Death of Nelson Mandela


The world lost one of its most courageous and righteous leaders yesterday with the passing of Nelson Mandela. Mandela, who was imprisoned for fighting against Apartheid in South Africa only to later become that country’s first elected president once Apartheid ended, dedicated his life to fighting for social justice and economic equality.


My wife and I had the opportunity to meet Madiba on a trip to South Africa in 1994. As we ate lunch together, I could not help but to feel in awe of his presence. He exuded a quiet dignity, strong conviction, inspiring confidence, the wisdom of his years and experiences, and a strong moral character. He was a man of purpose at peace with who he was and willing to fight for his beliefs. My wife and I left that brief lunch determined to do more to help make the world a better place. He inspired us. He showed us how.


Much has been and will be written about Nelson Mandela’s incredible legacy- his successful fight to end Apartheid and reconcile the nation; his work as President of South Africa to end poverty, improve education, and create economic opportunity for all; and his efforts on behalf of human rights for people throughout the world. But he also leaves the world a legacy that will largely go unnoticed: He has taught us all how to live with independence, dignity and purpose as we get older. After being released from prison at the age of 72, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Soviet Order of Lenin at the age of 75. At 76, he was elected President of South Africa serving a five-year term. He spent the rest of his life fighting to eradicate poverty and HIV/AIDS through the Nelson Mandela Foundation while continuing to speak out for social justice and human rights.


In a speech at the opening of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy in January 2007, Mandela said, “It can be said that there are four basic and primary things that the mass of people in a society wish for: to live in a safe environment, to be able to work and provide for themselves, to have access to good public health and to have sound educational opportunities for their children.”   Those are the things Nelson Mandela fought for and the things we fight for today at AARP.


While we will miss Nelson Mandela, we will also continue to carry out his legacy, to lead social change so all people can live and age with independence, dignity and purpose. Nelson Mandela showed us the way. Now, it is up to all of us to fulfill the promise.



Let Us Honor Mandela by Emulating His Humility and Humanity

By John W. Boyd Jr., President, Black Farmers Association

The world has lost a truly noble leader with the death of former South Africa President Nelson Mandela. His 1993 Nobel Peace Prize only touches the surface on how he will be remembered. Mandela’s passing Dec. 5 at the age of 95 brings to mind what my grandmother used to say about longevity: God leaves good people here a long time to watch over bad folks.

Mandela, the first Black president of South Africa, was able to break racial barriers. His firm but humble style of leadership is really what the world could use more of today. 

Most people would be bitter and divisive after being imprisoned unjustly for so many years. Instead, he walked into freedom after 27 years and helped unify South Africa by working with both whites and Blacks.

I remember attending a rally in Washington, D.C., to call for an end to the apartheid system that inhumanely oppressed Blacks. Seeing Nelson Mandela overcome his country’s mistreatment and rise to head its government was a signal of what could be in the United States and around the world. Years later we saw that potential manifested with the election of the first Black president in Obama’s triumph.

My unforgettable moment with Nelson Mandela came in 1998 when I had the honor of meeting him and experiencing his generosity of spirit. Our conversation was a reminder that he was an attorney and activist, and full of wisdom.

I asked him what advice he could give me for our pursuit of justice for the Black farmers in America. He said farmers are the most needed people in the world. Without farmers there would be persistent famine worldwide. He advised me to keep pressing forward with our fight for justice and vindication.

I held those words close as the years went by and even now as our struggle continues today. I feel honored to have had the opportunity to visit with him. The world can learn from both his struggle and his ultimate victory. His African National Congress was banned, his struggle turned violent with the government. He served 27 hard years in prison.

Every so often God chooses the best man for the job. Nelson Mandela was the right man at the right place and time in history. His legacy is secure as the man who broke the chains of apartheid.

U. S. leaders could use a chapter from Nelson Mandela’s book. We have a divided Congress whose members choose not to work with President Obama, a Black man. The loss of this great illuminates a better path. The world can learn from both his struggle and his leadership. He was banned from the African National Congress, his struggle turned violent with the government. He served 27 hard years in prison.

Mandela’s passing should give us the opportunity to look deep into our own struggles and ask what we can do to make America and the world a better place.

He will be mourned. He will be missed. And as we memorialize him let us do so by adopting the spirit of his greatness: tackling huge challenges with humility, love and unshakable determination.