Among the people in Northeast Ohio mourning the death of former South African president Nelson Mandela is U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. ideastream’s Nick Castele reports.
U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge says Nelson Mandela’s path from decades of imprisonment to becoming South Africa’s first black president and beginning to roll back apartheid inspired action in the United States, too.
“He really did make people around the world understand the significance of human rights and equality and justice and civil rights, because there were still problems in the United States then as there are some now," Fudge said. "But he gave an awful lot of us hope. I mean, clearly, America is a better place because Nelson Mandela lived in South Africa.”
Fudge points to Barack Obama’s election as America’s first black president as just one example of those changes. She says she looks to Mandela as an example in her role as chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, particularly in issues such as trying to preserve access to the polls and to lessen inequality in the U.S. educational system.
Fudge says she admired Mandela’s belief in the power of diplomacy.
“Even with all of the things he’s gone through, and all of the issues that he faced in his country, he always was a statesman," she said. "He believed that -- he used his power for peace. He used his power for people to fight for what was right.”
And Fudge says when people stood in line for hours to vote Mandela into the presidency, he accomplished what few were able to even imagine.
Other elected officials in Northeast Ohio also acknowledge'd the South African leader's passing.
In a statement posted to his website, House Speaker John Boehner of southwest Ohio called Mandela, "an unrelenting voice for democracy.” Boehner continued, "He passes this world as a champion of peace and racial harmony."
Congressman Jim Renacci said in a statement, "The world has lost a true champion for peace, equality, and freedom."
And Sen. Sherrod Brown tweeted, "Nelson Mandela's courage, humanity, and selflessness will continue to inspire generations to come."
Also on Twitter, Sen. Rob Portman wrote that Mandela “stood for the self-evident truth that all men are created equal. He will be missed, but his legacy lives on.”