Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president and the leader of a decades-long struggle against Apartheid, died in Johannesburg Thursday. He was 95.
His death prompted an outpouring of tributes from world leaders. President Barack Obama said Mandela was “a man who took history in his hands and bent the arc of the moral universe towards justice." Bill Clinton tweeted that he “will never forget my friend Madiba.”
Born in 1918 to a chief of the Thembu tribe, Mandela demonstrated an independent streak early in his life, according to a 10-page obituary of Mandela in the New York Times, which charts Mandela’s path from student to political activist to revolutionary to prisoner, and finally to president. When Mandela was 44 years old in 1962, the South African government imprisoned him on Robben Island in Cape Town. He would not be released until the winter of 1990.
That summer, a newly liberated Mandela visited the Bay Area, a region that had long been active in the anti-Apartheid movement. Mandela spoke to a crowd of 58,000 in Oakland Coliseum. "You must remember that you are our blood brothers and sisters. You are our comrades in the struggle. Remember that we respect you, we admire you and, above all, we love you.," Mandela told the audience, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), who led UC Berkeley’s Divestment Committee while a graduate student in the 1980s, said sorrow is an inadequate tribute for Mandela. “The life of this courageous and just man is to be celebrated. Nelson Mandela’s eternal mission was the fight for freedom and civil rights, Skinner said in a statement. “He will continue to inspire generations of people to stand up for social justice. His example will live on forever.”
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