Life is a series of falls and rises, mountains and valleys, and pushing and pausing. And as Mandela has shown, our most important years and victories may occur when our hair is gray or gone.
For Mandela, true freedom could only come from forgiveness and a desire to recast the society not from personal or group revenge, but rather from justice, redemption and reconciliation.
Nelson Mandela's determination and steadfast commitment to equality remains an inspiration to activists and ordinary citizens the world over.
If you're like most Americans, you know that Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison and emerged without hatred to spearhead a peaceful transfer of power in South Africa. But you probably know nothing about the 1995 Rugby World Cup match.
A political prisoner changed my life. That man, now free -- always free, really -- wore number 466 at Robben Island prison in South Africa. Today, he died. I know Nelson Mandela won't have the opportunity to read this. But I do need to write it.
Whether a president's ratings rise or fall, they aren't running for reelection so their approval numbers have no effect on their prospects. The only issue of concern is their legacy. The same is true with Obama.
As the eulogies for Nelson Mandela begin to appear, it's the perfect moment to reflect on how the U.S. responded to his calls to end apartheid. Today, just as during the bleak days of apartheid, oppressive regimes imprison and harass human rights activists, Mandela's spiritual heirs.
The world has lost a true leader, a true father and a true inspiration. To say he lived a life of significance barely does it justice, and it is not over -- he leaves a profound legacy of hope in a world still wracked by injustice and inequity.
That was Mandela's third visit to Spain, during which he spoke to us about the beginnings of decolonization and the acceptance of the idea that every nation has the right to belong to and participate equitably in the global community. He said that countries cannot be based in the oppression of other nations.
Death is not the final victory.
Nothing can silence the voice of Nelson Mandela - not Robin Island, not death.
His words are eternal.
His voice will echo throughout time.
As leaders of governments and human rights groups from all over the world prepare to attend the funeral of Nelson Mandela in South Africa next week, here is a proposal that would pay worthy tribute to his memory.
When the end of legalized-discrimination against LGBT people finally happens in America, and it will happen, the fight for equality in this county will not be finished.
Though I had adopted the title of "African" American like most of my relations in the Diaspora, I was never more aware of how little I really knew about Africa and this African hero than I was on that day in 1990 he was freed from prison as the whole world watched.
His work went beyond his people to all peoples, and beyond his country to every corner of the planet. If there is justice in this universe, in any form, Nelson Mandela will indeed rest in peace.
Nelson Mandela wasn't a "personality" politician. He was the leader of a movement and a model for the world. We'll be learning from his example long after the eulogies have ended.
I had the honor of working with Madiba often during my time as co-chairman of the U.S.-South Africa Binational Commission. Each and every time I was with him, I was awed by his commanding yet graceful presence.
He has been such a forceful presence in our collective minds ... the liberator of South Africa, the global torchbearer for freedom and liberty, the moral conscience of a world plagued by intolerance and violence. Is there anybody of stature today who can carry his torch? Alas, nobody comes to mind.