THE BLOG
12/09/2013 03:49 pm ET Updated Feb 07, 2014

Who Was Nelson Mandela?

It's hopeful that there are more that are reading this that know the answer to this question than those who don't.

However, for those who truly do not know who the man was -- here's what he's not for starters.

  • Nelson Mandela is not a celebrity or a star of movies, good, bad, indifferent, or brainless.
  • Just for additional clarification, no, Mr. Mandela did not star in or appear in any of the Fast and the Furious films.
  • For the young who are challenged when it comes to knowledge of civics and history - he's not the man that you tweeted about, watched on TV in movie marathons for the next several days or turned to social media to post pictures like this in mourning.

Although many didn't create a Facebook page about Mr. Mandela that said he has earned his angel wings, there were plenty of other things that many did that... Yes, still demonstrated that many didn't truly know him or anything about him.

What some of you did was:

  • Accuse him of a being a murder, a racist, a terrorist, or a hate monger.
  • Asked the question -- "Who the hell is Nelson Mandela and why should I care?"
  • Created a "Paul Walker vs. Nelson Mandela: Which Death Hit You Harder" query via social media.
  • At least one of you that we know of, a member of law enforcement, Sheriff Rick Clark of South Carolina had refused to lower the flag in honor of Nelson Mandela because he isn't American.

That last item on the list seems to be one of the most incorrect, although technically correct statements that I've seen so far.

It doesn't need to be said that everyone will have a different reaction to any event that takes place. As hard as it is to believe, Nelson Mandela wasn't considered a hero or an icon to everyone. We already know that.

In either case, just so that no one gets it twisted up -- here is who Nelson Mandela truly was.

Nelson Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary. He was the first black South African president to hold office in the first fully representative democratic election.

It was Mandela's government that dedicated itself to eradicating any remnants of the legacy of apartheid.

The very definition of apartheid is the state of being apart; the manner in which segregation was carried out in South Africa was the perfect storm in the eyes of every segregationist that ever lived.

Before being elected as president, Mandela dedicated his life to dismantling the world of apartheid. He spent more than 25 years in prison; he risked his life to break down the color bars that truly held South Africa back from realizing its full potential.

Just as racism, inequality and segregation has done in any area of the world.

"Each of us is as intimately attached to the soil of this beautiful country as the famous jacaranda trees of Pretoria and the mimosa trees of the bushveld -- a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world." That was part of the address from Mr. Mandela given after his election into the presidency.

It was with that address that the formation of what was coined by Archbishop Desmond Tutu as the Rainbow Nation -- this would describe South Africa post-apartheid; the unity and coming-together multi-cultural people from many different nations.

Nelson Mandela was willing to give his life to see to it that future generations of his country were afforded opportunities and a way of life that he was not because of apartheid.

I'm not sure about what Sheriff Rick Clark was thinking, but that alone makes Nelson Mandela more American than most people who were born and raised in this country -- he deserved a lowered flag and much more than we have and could ever dream of giving him.

That is who Nelson Mandela, star of the best that humanity has ever offered us, and he didn't have to drive fast cars to get there.