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Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee released the following statement today on the passing of former South African President Nelson Mandela:

“On this sad day, the thoughts, prayers, and wishes of all Americans, and peace loving people the world over, are with Nelson Mandela and his family. Nelson Mandela’s commitment to humanity as a human rights lawyer, a prisoner of conscience, an international peacemaker, and as the first elected president of a free, democratic, and multiracial Republic of South Africa inspired the world.

“Nelson Mandela dedicated his life to serving humanity in the fields of conflict resolution, race relations, the promotion and protection of human rights, reconciliation, gender equality, the rights of children and other vulnerable groups, the uplift of poor and underdeveloped communities, and the struggle for democracy internationally and the promotion of a world culture of peace.

“Today we honor the life and work of a man who by his courage, commitment to justice, grace in the face of unearned suffering, and capacity to forgive continues to inspire the world. In the words of Nelson Mandela: ‘For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.’

“He went from a militant freedom fighter, to a prisoner, to a unifying figure, to an elder statesman. He was a father figure, elder statesman and global ambassador. He was the guarantee, almost like an insurance policy, that South Africa’s young democracy and its leaders will pursue the nation’s best interests. He led the campaign to defeat apartheid through non-violence, peace, and dialogue.  He never allowed resentment to drive him away from the path of reconciliation.  He emerged from prison to set free an entire nation; he shed the bonds of slave labor to reshape the fate of his people.

“May the life of Nelson Mandela long stand as the ultimate tribute to the triumph of hope.  May it be a comfort to his family, to his friends and loved ones, to the people of South Africa that so many mourn the loss of this extraordinary man and incredible leader at this sad time.”


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