It was the summer of 1990. I was home, living with my parents, working part-time at a Miami television station as a production assistant. I made an aspiring journalist’s wage, $6 an hour.
A multiracial group of students back at my Washington, D.C., college had staged sit-ins calling for the school to divest from South Africa. I remember campus-wide "reverse apartheid" protest days. We were learning about modern-day, systemic racial segregation.
But in 1990, Nelson Mandela, who'd spent 27 years as a political prisoner, was released.
Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 12:41 pm
During Tuesday's memorial service at South Africa's largest soccer stadium, President Obama delivered a 20-minute eulogy that compared Mandela to Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln and America's founding fathers.
Mandela, Obama said in Johannesburg, was the "last great liberator of the 20th century." He was not only a man of politics, but a pragmatist and flawed human being who managed to discipline his anger to turn centuries of oppression into what Mandela liked to call a "Rainbow Nation."
In the summer of 1993 Nelson Mandela was touring the United States raising money for his African National Congress political party. He visited one of the most racially separate cities in the U.S. but had a much different experience compared to his visit three years earlier in Miami.
Mandela came to visit in early July. That summer I was working as an intern for a CBS News radio station in Chicago. I was assigned to help the reporter who was on scene at host Rev. Jesse Jackson's headquarters in Chicago's South Side, where the population is largely African-American.
If you live on the Caribbean street – and Florida is part of that street – here are three ways of looking at Nelson Mandela’s death yesterday.
Each, not surprisingly, involves Cuba and Fidel Castro. But in a larger sense they involve how immaturely we practice politics on this street – and how immaturely the world beyond this street views our politics.
Nelson Mandela, who became an icon of the struggle for racial equality during a decades-long struggle against South Africa's apartheid system, is being remembered across the globe on Thursday following his death at age 95.
Mandela died after a prolonged lung infection, which had been a recurring problem for him since his days as a prisoner of conscience on South Africa's Robben Island. He served 27 years at the notorious jail.
"He is now resting. He is now at peace," South African President Jacob Zuma said in an address to the nation.
Twenty-three years ago, Nelson Mandela came to Miami, stumbled into a quagmire of Cuban exile politics, got exploited by racial equality organizers and left South Florida a little better than it was before.
Near the end of his 27 years in prison, Nelson Mandela was taken to secret meetings with government officials and for drives around Cape Town. Here, he returned to his Robben Island prison cell for a visit in 1994, shortly before he became South Africa's first black president.
Credit Louise Gubb / Corbis
Mandela and other inmates faced harsh conditions during his many years at Robben Island prison. In the final year of his detention, the South African authorities put him in a private cottage where he had a swimming pool and a cook. Mandela is shown here during a return visit to his old Robben Island cell in 1994.
Nelson Mandela, with his wife, Winnie, walks to freedom after 27 years in prison on Feb. 11, 1990, in Cape Town.
Credit Reuters /Landov
Nelson Mandela, pictured in the early 1960s, before he was sentenced in 1964 to life in prison for sabotage. The government did not release photos of Mandela during his many years in prison, and few people knew what he looked like at the time of his release.
Credit Udo Weitz / AP
Several hours after his release from prison, Nelson Mandela made his first speech on the balcony of Cape Town's City Hall. As he prepared to speak, he realized he had left his glasses in the prison. So he borrowed a pair from his wife Winnie.
Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 7:19 pm
One of the most remarkable days of Nelson Mandela's extraordinary life was Feb. 11, 1990, when he walked out of prison after 27 years behind bars. Greg Myre, the international editor of NPR.org, covered Mandela's release for The Associated Press and recounts that day.
The evening before his release from 27 years in prison, Nelson Mandela was ushered into a secret meeting with South African President F.W. de Klerk for a conversation that sounded straight from the theater of the absurd.