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Rep. Giddings, Helen

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Giddings Reflects on the Life of Nelson Mandela  print page

by: Rep. Giddings, Helen

Arguably the world's greatest moral leader, his contributions to freedom and equality across our world are countless. He showed us what true leadership and compassion is, and its potential to change the world.

I will forever treasure the privilege of spending time with him. My first meeting with Mr. Mandela in 1995 was a unique experience that was an absolute realization that I was standing in the presence of greatness. Later meetings were just as inspirational and I continued to be in awe of both his charisma and his humility.

In response to his infamous 27 years of imprisonment he showed the world a sermon stressing that only love can conquer hate. Mr. Mandela's refusal to hate and his lack of bitterness in the face of bigotry and hatred continue to stand as an example for the world to follow.

Though South Africa elected him as its president, to many he was much more; a moral compass in a time of great intolerance and turmoil. In effect, he was seen as President of the world. And while the very soul of South Africa, his life was indeed also a gift to a global society. His struggle and search for freedom, justice, and equality for all South Africans gave rise to added freedom, justice, and equality for all people.

In summary, Mr. Mandela committed his life to the fierce struggle to eliminate the notion of better or lessor and superior and inferior human beings. He gave everything to the struggle and he would have given his life if need be for the liberation of South Africa.

The miracle of 1994 could not have been achieved by any one person. Few would deny that "Mandela" was the chief architect. South Africa will forever miss Nelson Mandela, as will we all. His influence on the fight against global inequality will continue to live on in our hearts and souls. Let the world smile and rejoice for the 95 years we were given with Nelson Mandela.
Thank you.

Helen Giddings

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