New Yorkers react to Nelson Mandela's death - New York News

New Yorkers react to Nelson Mandela's death

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NEW YORK (AP) -

JAKE PEARSON | AP

NEW YORK (AP) — When a newly freed Nelson Mandela visited the United States in 1990, his first stop was New York City. And on Thursday, from elected officials to everyday New Yorkers, the political giant was remembered fondly for the strength of his character and the power of his example.

"He devoted his life to building a more just, equal and compassionate world, and we are all better for it," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement on Mandela's death, adding that flags at City Hall would be lowered to half-staff in his honor.

In Harlem, artist Franco Gaskin, 85, stood in front of a mural featuring Mandela he had painted on a storefront gate almost 20 years ago. He remembered Mandela's 1990 visit.

"It was dynamic, everyone was so electrified to see him in Harlem," Gaskin said. "I idolized him so much. He leaves a legacy that all of us should follow."

Mandela's passing was also marked on the marquee of the famed Apollo Theater, which said, "He changed our world" along with the years of his birth and death.

In 1990, Mandela was greeted by tens of thousands of cheering people as he traveled in a motorcade through black neighborhoods in Brooklyn, and city officials honored him with a ticker tape parade. He made other visits, including after the Sept. 11 attacks.

In his statement, Rev. Al Sharpton said, "Everything humanly possible that could be done to someone other than killing them was done to him, yet he maintained his dignity and his determination. It is almost unthinkable what he endured and yet forgave. He taught us that you have to keep your eye on the prize, and that nothing you suffer is as important as the goals that you are fighting for."

Harlem resident Troy Gibson echoed that thought. Mandela "showed us strength and perseverance, he's taught a lot of people a lot of things."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said flags on state buildings would be lowered to half-staff in Mandela's honor as well.

"Nelson Mandela refused to accept injustice, fought relentlessly for what was right, and showed that a dedicated person of courage actually can change the course of history," Cuomo's statement said.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Statements by local officials:

"I am honored to have encountered Nelson Mandela on several occasions. He changed human history and taught activists around the world that in order to legitimately further what is noble, you must actually be a noble person. Nelson Mandela personified someone that non-violently changed the course of world history with the democratization of South Africa. Everything humanly possible that could be done to someone other than killing them was done to him, yet he maintained his dignity and his determination. It is almost unthinkable what he endured and yet forgave. He taught us that you have to keep your eye on the prize, and that nothing you suffer is as important as the goals that you are fighting for. He showed us that you can change the course of human history without lowering yourself to human depravity."

--Rev. Al Sharpton

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"Today, we lost one of the most transformative and influential figures in modern history. Nelson Mandela was a global icon who broke the back of apartheid in South Africa and inspired generations of people around the world with his spirit of resolve and reconciliation. The tickertape parade Mayor Dinkins organized for him in 1990 was a great moment for our city, and his visit here in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 helped give our city strength and hope – for which we will be forever grateful. When I presented Nelson Mandela with the Key to the City in 2005, he spoke passionately about the work of his foundation and his ongoing efforts to tackle the HIV/AIDS epidemic and many other important issues. He devoted his life to building a more just, equal and compassionate world, and we are all better for it. On behalf of the people of the City of New York, I offer my sincere condolences to the Mandela family and the people of South Africa. At my direction, flags at City Hall will be lowered to half-staff in his honor."

--Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg

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"Nelson Mandela refused to accept injustice, fought relentlessly for what was right, and showed that a dedicated person of courage actually can change the course of history. His struggle to end racism, poverty and inequality began with his fight against apartheid, continued through his service as the first black President of South Africa and is now passed on for the world to continue. We will not soon see again, nor should we ever forget the profound example of humanity that Nelson Mandela embodied. While President Mandala is no longer with us, here in New York and all around the globe, his legacy lives on. His family and friends, and the people of South Africa, are in my thoughts and prayers along with those of all New Yorkers."

--Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo

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"Nelson Mandela was a hero to the world. His bravery in defending human rights against the great evil of apartheid made him a symbol of courage and dignity, as well as an inspiration to people everywhere. As Blessed Pope John Paul II noted during his visit to South Africa in 1995, Nelson Mandela was for many years, 'a silent and suffering 'witness' of your people's yearning for true liberation,' who, as President of South Africa, had to then 'shoulder the burden of inspiring and challenging everyone to succeed in the task of national reconciliation and reconstruction.' In succeeding in these crucial and difficult tasks, Nelson Mandela truly made the world a better place. May he rest in peace."

--Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York

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