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Nelson Mandela: a brief encounter | Congress for the New Urbanism

Nelson Mandela: a brief encounter

John Norquist's picture

In the summer of 1993 Nelson Mandela visited NYC Mayor David Dinkins at Gracie Mansion. Several big city mayors were in town for a meeting including me as Mayor of Milwaukee.

Mandela was the most impressive public figure I've encountered. He had the clear eye of one who had been unjustly imprisoned for pursuing a just cause. He greeted the 20 mayors and 30 or so other dignitaries. He seemed unhurried and when he'd finished working the line he quietly slipped into the kitchen and greeted the food service staff.

This was before he'd become President of South Africa the next year. He briefly spoke thanking Dinkens for his hospitality. He stated his hope for peace and unity in the new post-apartheid South Africa. He mentioned that he appreciated the support many Americans gave him and and the anti Apartheid movement during the decades of struggle. He specifically praised former President Jimmy Carter for supporting human rights.

Then Mandela left and the assemblage sat down to dinner.

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