December 5, 2013

Youth ‘Owe a Tremendous Amount to Mandela,’ South Africans at Cornell Say

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Cornellians say anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday at the age of 95, has left behind an indelible legacy as a civil rights activist.

Imprisoned for nearly three decades for resisting South Africa’s apartheid system, Mandela is best remembered for dismantling the institutionalized racism that tore his country apart for decades. After being released from jail, he insisted on forgiving those who imprisoned him, setting an example for South Africa that grew to be embodied by the name “Rainbow Nation.”

Elected the country’s first black president in 1994, Mandela continued to fight for social causes throughout the rest of his life — meeting with celebrities to raise awareness about HIV, developing programs to combat rural poverty and fundraising to help youth attend schools.

South African student Christina Mosalagae law said she was floored when she learned of Mandela’s death.

Nelson Mandela waves to supporters after voting in South Africa’s first post-Apartheid election near Durban in 1994. Mandela was elected president after leading the African National Congress through the negotiations that led to the first fully democratic elections in 1994 and the end of white minority rule. (Ozier Muhammad / The New York Times)