Tennessee tributes to Nelson Mandela

The Commercial Appeal has an article on the late Nelson Mandela’s visit to Memphis back in 2000 and some Tennessee politicians have issued statements on his passing.

From the CA article:

The stage was dark, the room silent. Five thousand people watched the curtain for signs of a flutter. A gentle African drumming broke the silence, beating softly at first but getting louder and louder.

When the drumming reached a deafening frenzy, the curtain shot open and there, standing in the spotlight, was Nelson Mandela.

“It was so powerful it brought the whole audience to their feet,” recalled Beverly Robertson, president of the National Civil Rights Museum. “It was phenomenal.”

It took Robertson more than six years, countless faxes, and a trip around the world to bring the former South African President and anti-apartheid hero to Memphis to accept the museum’s prestigious International Freedom Award on Nov. 22, 2000.

Mandela, 95, died at his home Thursday, according to South African President Jacob Zuma.

…Upon landing in Memphis, Mandela asked to go straight to the Lorraine Motel to visit the place where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.

“Normally our honorees don’t go straight to the museum,” Robertson said. “He got there and he cried. He said it was holy ground.”

News releases below.

From the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators:
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (December 5, 2013) – Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators Chairman Larry Miller issued the following statement on the passing of Nelson Mandela:
“Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to the family of Nelson Mandela and the people of South Africa. Mr. Mandela was a true inspiration to not only his fellow countrymen, but the entire world. His instrumental role in ending apartheid and bringing true democracy to South Africa showed us all that we should never give up the fight for justice and equality.”

From Sen. Lamar Alexander:
WASHINGTON, Dec. 5– U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today made the following statement on the passing of Nelson Mandela:

“Visiting Nelson Mandela’s Robben Island prison cell and then reading his autobiography taught our family inspiring lessons from a remarkable life that helped to achieve a political result few imagined possible.”

From Sen. Bob Corker:
U.S. Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, made the following statement regarding the passing of former South African President Nelson Mandela.

“As an inspirational leader, Nelson Mandela brought about a better way of life for his people of South Africa and inspired millions throughout the world. While we are all saddened by his passing, his personal story and contributions to freedom, democracy, and human rights will live on forever,” said Corker.

From Gary Moore, president of the Tennessee Labor Council:
NASHVILLE, TN -The news of former South African President Nelson Mandela’s passing yesterday resonated with people around the world. Although few were fortunate enough to know him personally, his legacy and work touched many so deeply that his death felt more like the loss of a close friend.

Despite years of imprisonment, Mandela never lost sight of his fight for economic and social justice for South Africans. He was a quiet man, but that characteristic established him as one of the most revered political leaders in the world and a true champion of democracy.

Mandela wasn’t afraid to address the problems of racism and economic inequality in South Africa, the United States, or any other place. His goal of bringing an end to apartheid won him the respect of both blacks and whites in his home country and was a key component of his human rights campaign.

In its reaction to Mandela’s death, our national office recalls his visit to the United States in 1990. Speaking to the AFL-CIO, he used the labor movement’s legacy of inspiring America’s workers as an example for South Africans. We will continue to do our best to act as a model of justice and equality for workers around the world and always remember Mandela’s message.

All of us at the Tennessee AFL-CIO, along with all of our brothers and sisters in the labor movement, offer our deepest sympathies to Nelson Mandela’s family and the country of South Africa.

Gary Moore is the president of the Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council.