In America, an Outpouring of Tributes for Nelson Mandela

Throughout the country, Nelson Mandela was hailed as a larger-than-life leader who was a role model.

Posted: 12/05/2013 09:39 PM EST

In the United States, the reactions to the death of Nelson Mandela came from a wide range of elected officials and celebrity figures who spoke about the South African leader as one of the world’s most significant icons.

“I maintain that Nelson Mandela is the greatest figure in the last 100 years,” said former New York City Mayor David N. Dinkins, speaking with BET.com.

Dinkins spent considerable time with the South African leader, having hosted Mandela in New York in 1990 soon after he was released from nearly three decades in prison.

“His life demonstrates that anything is possible and that one day there will be peace even in the Middle East, as far-fetched as that seems to some,” Dinkins said. “This is a somber moment and, although we knew he was in bad health, one is never prepared for this.”
 
His view of Mandela was echoed by many other American officials throughout the country.

“Nelson Mandela was South Africa’s and the world’s great warrior saint,” said Benjamin Todd Jealous, the president and chief executive of the NAACP, speaking with BET.com.

“He was fully human in the best sense of the word and fully inspiring in his response to victory,” Jealous said. “The best way we can honor him is to chose to live with courage, speak the truth and love humanity. It’s also important to educate our young people about just how courageous, transformative and fully human he was.”

Similarly, many elected officials spoke of Mandela as a singularly inspirational presence in modern history.

“Nelson Mandela was a legendary freedom fighter trailblazer and statesman,” said Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, a Democrat from New York, speaking with BET.com.

“He changed the course of history by healing a nation and helping to get rid of the scourge of Apartheid,” Jeffries said. “We can learn much about his life and legacy, and that includes a full range of attributes from courage and conviction to the ability to forgive those who have wronged the very people you care most about.”

Bill de Blasio, the mayor elect of New York City offered a similar perspective.

“We live in a far better world today because of the life and work of Nelson Mandela,” de Blasio said, in a statement. “He met hatred with reason, intolerance with resolve."

He added, "For so many of us, the fight for a free South Africa became the rallying cry of our generation. It brought us together and inspired us to confront oppression abroad — and also here at home.

In a statement, California governor Jerry Brown said: “Nelson Mandela fought heroically for freedom and a truly democratic society. His courageous life shows what’s possible when one acts on his convictions.”

Many prominent Americans took their views to the Internet.

“You will always be in my heart Mr. Mandela,” Tiger Woods, the golf giant, said on Twitter.

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(Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

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