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(NECN: Mike Cronin) - Congressman Jim McGovern was a legislative aide when he protested outside the South African embassy in Washington D.C. some 30 years ago. He and others were arrested after demanding Nelson Mandela be released from prison.
McGovern said, “I've always been very proud of that. Apartheid was an evil system that the world tolerated for too long.”
Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years because of his fight against apartheid. He was released in 1990 and ended racial segregation by the South African government, becoming the country's first black president. McGovern says he also became a moral leader around the world.
He said, "He really believed and he was right, that you could create a better world, a world that was more tolerant, a world free of racism and prejudice, a world free of war.”
Clark University Sociology Professor Robert Ross said, “This is the passing of a titan, of a really great man.”
Ross still has the front page of Mandela’s 1990 visit to Boston framed at his Southboro home. While Mandela was imprisoned, Ross says Massachusetts was one of the first states to economically boycott South Africa. Ross uses Mandela’s prison sentence as a talking point in the classroom.
He said, “I use and talk about Mandela's experience in South Africa as examples of endurance even when things are tough.”
McGovern says Mandela will be missed by the millions who he inspired worldwide. He says Mandela had an amazing ability to bring people together.
He said, “I wish there were more world leaders like him around the world and more people like him. We'd be in better shape than what we are now.”