Friday, December 6, 2013

By Kathy Wray Coleman: Nelson Mandela dead at 95, U.S. President Barack Obama, U.S. Rep Marcia Fudge of Ohio, who also leads the Congressional Black Caucus of Blacks in Congress, respond to news of his death

Former South African President Nelson Mandela
By Kathy Wray Coleman, editor-in-chief, Cleveland Urban News.Com and The Kathy Wray Coleman Online News Blog.Com, Ohio's No 1 and No 2 online Black newspapers ( and ( Reach us by phone at 216-659-0473 and by email at

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa-Nelson Mandela, the first Black South African president and an anti-apartheid leader who spent 27 years in prison fighting for democracy and retired from public life nine years ago, died Thursday. He was 95.

South African President Jacob Zuma released a press statement saying that the nation has lost its greatest son and that "he is now at peace."
A state funeral will be held  Zuma said, after calling for mourners to be dignified and respectful. 
United States President Barack Obama
United States President Barack Obama on Thursday issued a proclamation and directed that flags be lowered to half staff beginning immediately and until sunset on Monday, Dec 9, according to a press release from White House Press Secretary Jay Carney to Cleveland Urban News.Com, Ohio's most read digital Black newspaper.

"Today, the United States lost a close friend, South Africa has lost an incomparable liberator, and the world has lost an inspiration for freedom, justice, and human dignity," the proclamation reads in part.

"He left behind a South Africa that is free and at peace with itself," said Obama, the first Black president of the United States of America.

U.S. Representative Marcia L. Fudge of Ohio (D-11),
also chair of the Congressional Black Caucus
of Blacks in Congress
U.S. Rep. Marcia L. Fudge, whose majority Black 11th congressional district includes the city of East Cleveland and parts of Cleveland and Akron, Ohio, and who leads the Congressional Black Caucus of Blacks in Congress, released a press statement saluting Mandela.

"Although he was imprisoned for 27 years for his non-violent efforts to end apartheid in South Africa, Mr. Mandela never stopped fighting against blatantly discriminatory and dehumanizing policies of the South African government," said Fudge. "In 1994, Mandela took office as South Africa's first democratically elected president and he promoted peace and forgiveness as he led the country with pragmatic wisdom and raised aspirations of people everywhere."

Fudge said that "there is no better way to honor his legacy than to seek an end to injustice and  inequality wherever it is found."

Mandela was a trained attorney that inspired activists to follow his lead, then as a young lawyer that led the African National Congress against oppression and discrimination by the South African government. But in 1961 he led efforts to secure a government takeover, and a year later he was charged with treason and ultimately  found guilty. He was sentenced to life in prison on Robben Island.

Following an international campaign for his release, and after then South African President P.W. Botha had a stroke and  F.W. de Klerk was installed as his successor in 1989, Mandela, on Feb. 11, 1990, walked out of prison a free man. Two years later he and de Klerk negotiated the first ever multi-racial elections amid violence and racial strife, both earning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.  Those elections rendered him president in 1994 and he embarked upon a journey to rebuild South Africa through economic enhancements and racial tolerance and reconciliation.

He served a one five-year term by choice and divorced second wife Winnie Mandela during his tenure as South African President. He later married Graca Machal, the widow of the late president Mozambigue, an arranged marriage by design.

In addition to his wife Graca and mourners worldwide, Mandela also leaves to champion his legacy, three grown children. Two other children preceded him in death.