Even before his death Thursday at age 95, Nelson Mandela had transcended the bounds of one life and lifetime in his influence. With his tenacious fight for human rights and his forgiving spirit, he profoundly demonstrated the power of one individual to change hearts, minds, a nation and the world.
The example he set as a negotiator, liberator and leader will endure and inspire, challenging not only his beloved South Africa but the global population to root out both systemic and casual racism and to seek reconciliation and peace.
That Mandela could die of old age was a triumph of its own, given the 27 hard years he spent in prison. But the real victory was his life, which saw him transformed from dissident to president as South Africa was transformed from a brutally racist state to a multiracial government.
“I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities,” Mandela said in his defense to the court that would sentence him to life in prison for his anti-apartheid activism.
That ideal remains, fueled and guided by Mandela’s legacy.
For the editorial board, Rhonda Holman