Nelson Mandelaby Representative Henry C. "Hank" Johnson Jr.
Posted on 2013-12-12
JOHNSON of Georgia. I thank you, Mr. Fattah.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to join my distinguished colleagues in a tribute to the life of President Nelson Mandela. I do so with a heavy heart.
The people of South Africa and the world at large have lost a great human being and one of the finest leaders ever known. Although President Nelson Mandela has passed, his legacy and his vision remain vital, and they will remain with us. Madiba taught us how to live and also how to die. He inspired [[Page H8095]] hope in the people of South Africa. He set an example of leadership we would all do well to follow. He showed the world that an impassioned pursuit of justice could win over complacency and corruption.
I will always remember Nelson Mandela as a man and a movement. In 1990, not long after Mr. Mandela's release from jail, I attended a speech he gave at the Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. Seeing this icon in the flesh and hearing his calm voice taught me something about the nature of true revolutionaries--that they are very real people.
Nelson Mandela was a real person who personally faced oppression. Facing that reality made his legend all the more inspiring to me. True progress is not beyond our reach. It is not a product of wishful thinking or of serendipity. Radical change comes from determination and integrity. His peaceful presence underscored the intensity of his resolve. He bravely sought to change the seemingly unshakable status quo. The consequences of his actions were severe, but they did not break him. He showed the world that no amount of brutality could overpower the will of a people determined to be free. Nelson Mandela worked tirelessly to channel the righteous anger of the oppressed into a positive and revolutionary change.
What impressed me the most about Nelson Mandela was his humble spirit of forgiveness and love towards those who persecuted him. Neither angry nor vindictive and with great courage and dignity, he endured 27 years in prison, sacrificing his liberty for the sake of all South Africans. Ultimately, he lived a life of triumph over evil and adversity, leaving the world a better place for his journey amongst us.
On behalf of the people of Georgia's Fourth Congressional District, my wife and myself, I celebrate his life, and will work in pursuit of his vision. The spirit of his life will remain in my heart for so long as I shall live.