Celebrating the Life of Nelson Mandela

12/06/2013 06:25 pm ET | Updated Feb 05, 2014

Demos joins all the world in mourning the death, but -- much more importantly -- celebrating the life of Nelson Mandela.

Mandela's life and achievements are the absolute best argument for confidence that hope and justice can triumph. Of those achievements, perhaps his greatest was in teaching how deeply racism damages society, the oppressors and the oppressed alike, and how through compassion all must be healed from the wounds of this violence.

His courage, dignity and will inspired the global anti-apartheid movement by igniting the conscience of the world. My very first participation in a protest, as a high school freshman, was in 1964 at a local Chase Manhattan branch office, demanding that it end its complicity with apartheid in South Africa. Spanning decades, this global movement led to his release, his freedom, his Presidency and the liberation of South Africa and all South Africans. As we face challenges today, different than those he faced but in many ways just as daunting, Mandela's example is a reminder that a better world is possible.

One person said to me this morning: "While Nelson Mandela was a citizen of South Africa, he can claim full residency in every person's heart." At Demos, we concur.