This evening, President Obama delivered a statement at the White House briefly addressing the nation regarding Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday at the age of 95.
With a somber tone, Obama shared with the nation a quote from Mandela which embodied the essence of the former leader. It read: “I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all person live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
President Obama went on to paint an admirable picture of the former leader affectionately known by his clan name, Madiba. “[He] transformed South Africa and moved all of us,” said the Commander-in-Chief. “Mandela achieved more than could be expected of any man; he lives for the ages. To the people of South Africa, we draw strength from the renewal that you made real. That is Madiba’s legacy.”
President Obama then asked that we all take a moment to remember Mandela’s accomplishments that greatly impacted the world:
“Let us pause and give thanks for the fact that Nelson Mandela lived, a man who took history in his hands and bent the arc of the moral universe towards justice,” he wrapped up. “May God bless his memory and keep him in peace.”
Madela’s passing was first confirmed by South Africa’s President, Jacob Zuma.
Here’s the reactions from former US Presidents:
Former President George W. Bush:
“Laura and I join the people of South Africa and the world in celebrating the life of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. President Mandela was one of the great forces for freedom and equality of our time. He bore his burdens with dignity and grace, and our world is better off because of his example. This good man will be missed, but his contributions will live on forever. Laura and I send our heartfelt sympathy to President Mandela’s family and to the citizens of the nation he loved.”
Former President Bill Clinton:
“[Nelson Mandela taught us so much about so many things. Perhaps the greatest lesson, especially for young people, is that, while bad things do happen to good people, we still have the freedom and responsibility to decide how to respond to injustice, cruelty and violence and how they will affect our spirits, hearts and minds.”
Former President George H.W. Bush:
“Barbara and I mourn the passing of one of the greatest believers in freedom we have had the privilege to know. As President, I watched in wonder as Nelson Mandela had the remarkable capacity to forgive his jailers following 26 years of wrongful imprisonment — setting a powerful example of redemption and grace for us all. He was a man of tremendous moral courage, who changed the course of history in his country. Barbara and I had great respect for President Mandela, and send our condolences to his family and countrymen.”
Former President Jimmy Carter:
“Rosalynn and I are deeply saddened by the death of Nelson Mandela. The people of South Africa and human rights advocates around the world have lost a great leader. His passion for freedom and justice created new hope for generations of oppressed people worldwide, and because of him, South Africa is today one of the world’s leading democracies. In recent years, I was gratified to be able to work with him through The Elders to encourage resolution of conflicts and advance social justice and human rights in many nations. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family at this difficult time.”