Remembering Mandela's visit to Chicago in 1993


During a visit to Chicago in July 1993, after his release from prison, Nelson Mandela was greeted by hundreds of supporters at City Hall. They had waited hours for a glimpse of the South African leader, according to a news report at the time.

“Even with all you heard about his courage and kindness, when you actually met him, the experience was more than you could ever have imagined,” former Mayor Richard M. Daley said through a spokesperson. “It’s difficult to explain but there was this aura about him like none other. Here he was this man who had experienced the depths of misery and yet lived to become a most powerful person. Yet he remained so patient, so understanding and kind.”


Mr. Mandela’s visit was an important one: Illinois was the first state to divest its pension funds from companies that did business in South Africa.

Mr. Daley remembers Mr. Mandela inquiring about city programs to help resident of public housing and about public schools.

Emil Jones, former president of the Illinois Senate, called Mr. Mandela’s Chicago visit an “emotional” gathering. “To be in the presence of someone so committed to a cause, you rarely meet people in your life like that.”

The South African leader also was greeted that day by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was among the first to embrace Mr. Mandela when he stepped out of prison.

Others at the 1993 event included then-state Attorney General Roland Burris and former Congressman Mel Reynolds.

(From left: Rev. Jesse Jackson, Mel Reynolds, Nelson Mandela, Bobby Rush, Emil Jones, and former Mayor Richard M. Daley, giving Mr. Mandela the key to the city. Click to enlarge)

Congressman Bobby Rush called Mr. Mandela’s Chicago visit “one of the highlights of my life.” He, too, visited Mr. Mandela in South Africa, along with his wife, …read more

Source: Crains Chicago Business

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