He dedicated his life to freedom and equality.

At his trial in 1964, Nelson Mandela closed his statement from the dock saying, “I have fought against White domination and I have fought against Black domination. I’ve cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Here was a man who spent 27 years in prison fighting for freedom, and once he was free showed no bitterness toward his oppressors.

As South Africa’s first Black president he paved the way to racial reconciliation with incredible forgiveness.

Mandela was hailed as a hero who could have been president for life, but who voluntarily gave up power after only one five-year term in office.

Mandela was a symbol of resistance, inclusion, toughness and grace, humility and greatness. He was a true hero to the world.

(Reprinted from the Philadelphia Tribune)

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