Nelson Mandela, the first black President of South Africa, has died today at the age of 95. Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years fighting apartheid in South Africa.
In announcing Mandela’s death, current South African President Jacob Zuma, said, “Our nation has lost its greatest son.”
Leaders in the U.S. are now reacting to the passing of the South African leader.
In a press conference at the White House, President Obama mentioned the example Mandela was for him as a young man, saying “I cannot fully imagine my own life without the example that Nelson Mandela set.”
President George H.W. Bush called Mandela, “a man of tremendous moral courage, who changed the course of history in his country.”
House Speaker John Boehner, R-OH, said in a statement, “Nelson Mandela was an unrelenting voice for democracy and his ‘long walk to freedom’ showed an enduring faith in God and respect for human dignity. His perseverance in fighting the apartheid system will continue to inspire future generations. Mandela led his countrymen through times of epic change with a quiet moral authority that directed his own path from prisoner to president. He passes this world as a champion of peace and racial harmony. I send condolences to the Mandela family and to the people of South Africa.”
Senator Robert Menendez, D-NJ, issued a statement saying, “Nelson Mandela taught us about humanity in the face of inhumanity, and left an unjust world a more just place. He ended Apartheid and united a nation, while demonstrating almost supernatural gifts of inner strength, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Few individuals in human history can truly claim a legacy of peace and perseverance like Mandela can. We as a global community are fortunate to have benefited from Mandela’s greatness and will forever be awed by his brave journey.”
Senator Ted Cruz, R-TX, said in a statement, “Nelson Mandela will live in history as an inspiration for defenders of liberty around the globe. He stood firm for decades on the principle that until all South Africans enjoyed equal liberties he would not leave prison himself, declaring in his autobiography, ‘Freedom is indivisible; the chains on any one of my people were the chains on all of them, the chains on all of my people were the chains on me.’ Because of his epic fight against injustice, an entire nation is now free.”
Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said in a tweet, “May the life of Nelson Mandela long stand as the ultimate tribute to the triumph of hope.”