A giant of racial and social justice: The death of Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Nelson Mandela (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

Nelson Mandela, the iconic anti-apartheid leader and political prisoner who rose to the presidency of South Africa, guiding its peaceful transition from racially oppressive rogue state to democracy, has died. He was 95.

Mandela — who endured a lengthy hospitalization over the summer for a recurring lung infection, a remnant of the tuberculosis he contracted in prison — died at his home in Johannesburg this afternoon, President Jacob Zuma said in a televised address.

“Our nation has lost its greatest son,” Zuma said. “Our people have lost their father.”

It was a loss that reverberated across the globe as leaders and citizens alike paid tribute to a man whose grit, force of will and charisma helped shape the course of history.

“We’ve lost one of the giants of the 20th century,” said James A. Joseph, who served as U.S. ambassador to South Africa during Mandela’s presidency. “He’ll be remembered not just for the power of his personal story or the strength of his ideals, though those are both worth remembering. Perhaps most important, he taught us about the potential of the human spirit.”

Read the story at NJ.com (Dec. 5, 2013)

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