THE ED SHOW
December 5, 2013
Guest: Joy Reid, Dr. James Peterson, Joan Walsh, Rohit Kachroo, Michael
ED SCHULTZ, THE ED SHOW HOST: Good evening, Americans, and welcome to the
Ed Show. Tonight, we start with some tragic breaking news. Former South
African President Nelson Mandela has died at the age of 95. Mandela, a
remarkable life. Dedicated his life to fighting for civil rights in South
Africa. Mandela lived long enough to see a multi-racial, democratic South
Africa. He called it the rainbow nation. And the grief over his death
crossed the racial lines that he devoted his life to erasing. As a young
man, it all started at the age of 25, Mandela joined the African National
Congress as an activist. In 1956, Mandela was arrested with 155 other
political activists and was charged with high treason. The treason trial
lasted four and a half years and the charges against him were ultimately
dropped. Mandela used a false identity to evade the government and travel
to Europe and other countries in Africa to build support to the ANC and
study guerrilla warfare.
When he returned to South Africa in 1962, Mandela was arrested and
sentenced to five years in prison. During his prison sentence, the
government charged Mandela and other ANC leaders with sabotage and
attempting to violently overthrow the government.
In the winter of 1964, Mandela and his colleagues were sentenced to life-in
prison. Mandela`s brutal imprisonment actually helped win freedom for his
entire nation. Mandela represented himself for the trial, and in his
defense, spoke out about democracy, equality and freedom.
On February 2nd, 1990, amidst an escalating international pressure, South
African president F.W. de Klerk lifted the ban on the ANC and release
Mandela. Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in December of 1993.
In April of 1994, in South Africa`s first truly democratic election where
all races were allowed to participate, Nelson Mandela was overwhelmingly
elected to the presidency. Mandela had been battling a respiratory
infection since early June.
A remarkable man, a remarkable life, a model of sticktoitiveness and to
never give up, a man of tremendous heart and compassion, Nelson Mandela
dead this night at the age of 65.
Joining me tonight for our special broadcast on the passing of Nelson
Mandela, Reverend Al Sharpton is with us here in studio, also Joy Reid of
TheGrio, Joan Walsh of Salon.com, and also with us tonight Dr. James
Peterson of Lehigh University.
Rev, I`ll start with you. This is a remarkable man -- a life that is been
a true treasure to humanity.
REV. AL SHARPTON, POLITICS NATION HOST: No doubt about it. I mean you
would have to say that he is a historic figure across all lands that you
cannot just compartmentalize him to a politician or a founding president of
South Africa. He is a man that fought the hate, the bigotry, the
institutional apartheid of a nation without internalizing it and was able
to reconcile a nation and move it forward and revolutionize it nonviolently
-- without firing one bullet.
I was in an election observer in `94. I was in Johannesburg the night they
lowered the flag of apartheid and raised a flag of a new South Africa. And
we met with Mr. Mandela many times here and there. But to see this
transition happen, nonviolently, peacefully, negotiated while he was in
jail, and couldn`t even share a lot of it with his fellow prisoners who had
done decades in jail.
He did 27 years in jail -- 16 years that he couldn`t touch his wife`s hand
through the screen because it was against the law. They wouldn`t allow him
to get out of jail to go home to bury his oldest son when he was killed.
The sacrifices he made but not to have any ranker and deliberate that
nation with no ranker and revenge, he was truly one of the world`s
remarkable people in history.
SCHULTZ: He went back to South Africa after leaving. He was that
committed. He could have been selfish and gone somewhere .
SCHULTZ: . somewhere else in the world. How will you remember this man?
What was he like to meet? What was he like to be around?
SHARPTON: To be in his presence, the times that I was there, you knew
you`re in the presence of greatness. He had a gravity yet a humility that
you did not find in any other president. I`ve been around a lot of
presidents, a lot of heads of states. There was something that was just
balance of humility and gravity and greatness that you just sense. You
were very humbled.
I don`t care what you thought you`re going to say going to a meeting with
Mr. Mandela. It all kind of evaporated in his sheer presence. And it
wasn`t his bombast because he wasn`t a bombastic. He wasn`t -- he isn`t
overwhelming you. He wasn`t the kind of guy that tried to overwhelm a
room. It was just his mere presence change the elements of the room.
SCHULTZ: What kind of effect did he have on you, Reverend Sharpton?
SHARPTON: Very much so. You know, as I read Mandela and study Brandon
Robinson and (inaudible) he admitted them, they would talk about him. I
began to understand the importance of not only believing in a movement and
trying to lead a movement, but you must internalize and be there. And
that`s what he was.
The impact he had was not enough to fight for right. You have to be right
and represent that righteous part yourself. So you can`t just talk about
reconciliation and peace, but some would do it by any means. You have to
represent it in your walk which he evolved to and taught many activists who
will never ever reach his statue. He challenged people to become what they
claim they wanted to see.
SCHULTZ: What were his emotions when that flag went up in 1994?
SHARPTON: That night, you know, he was a guy that didn`t give a lot of
emotion. You could not -- you could see him smile but he was not one that
would be overbearing. And even when he came out to the victory rallies, it
was three days of voting, and you vote in South Africa by party.
He was not one of ragadosha (ph). He was not one of high-fives we got
them. He was always a very stately reserved person. You can feel the
pride but you could also feel the "but we must move on" and he never ever
seemed -- in the times I was around or the many times I observed him to go
too hot or too cold. He was always right down the middle.
SCHULTZ: Well, with that, was he the same president that was behind bars
for 27 years? I mean 27 years behind bars could change a person, I would
imagine. Was he, demeanor-wise, the same person that was behind bars once
he got power and got in a position of authority? Was he the same Mandela?
SHARPTON: I could not say because I didn`t know him in prison. I`ve met
him after he was out clearly free in the early `90s and clearly on his way
to the presidency and after he was president.
But from what I`ve studied, he evolved. He was one that had become one
person that always was committed to the liberation of his people and the
liberation of South Africa, but he evolved over time. And I don`t know
that you could say became a different person but a more evolved and a more
prepared person over a period of time.
SCHULTZ: I mean, he`s described in his early years as a socialist
SCHULTZ: And that -- so you`re saying that evolving as a revolutionary to
studying guerrilla warfare to understanding that there were other ways to
get things done. And he was .
SHARPTON: But still revolutionary.
SCHULTZ: Yeah. Yeah.
SHARPTON: Revolution is not just done one way.
SHARPTON: And I think that revolution means that you changed, and if you
change it nonviolently and peacefully through an electoral democratic
process which he ended up doing in `94, or you do it another way, it`s
still changed. And I think that`s what he taught us is that you cannot get
caught up in the emotions of the method. You must get caught up in the
principles of the goals and the achievement of the goal.
SCHULTZ: What effect, Joan Walsh, has he had on American politics?
JOAN WALSH; SALON.COM: You know, Ed, he`s a towering figure of global
social justice and he remained a revolutionary. Reverend Al is right. His
goals were still, you know, a transcendent kind of global equality, a
multiracial global equality that we don`t have yet but that we`re still
fighting for and yet he did it in a nonviolent way. He did it with
I never was blessed to meet him, but from anyone who ever did was just
struck by the humility and the kindness emanating from this person who had
plenty of reasons to be bitter and he given up 27 lives -- excuse me -- 27
years to prison and still had an amazingly full life.
I would also say, you know, a young man named Barack Obama got involved in
the struggle against apartheid at Occidental. I was involved in it at the
University of Wisconsin. People in, you know, the `70s and `80s, a
generation of people came of age knowing that that was a central American
struggle and that the struggle for justice here was related to the
And, you know, I think that that was -- that had a profound effect on lot
SHARPTON: No doubt about it.
SCHULTZ: You think he had a profound effect on President Obama in his
WALSH: I do. And he spoken about that, yes. I do. I think that on --
you know, it was really a way for a lot of us to put together the American
social and racial justice push with the global one. But he was also a real
example of somebody who did evolve and who did preach and practice
nonviolence and who did preach and practice reconciliation and living to
get -- finding a way to live together despite profound differences on a
profound history of injustice.
SCHULTZ: What do you think the most remarkable feat is that he
accomplished in his life?
WALSH: I think creating a society that was not about vengeance and that
was really about learning what they and we all had in common. I think that
modeling revolutionary values but also with a sense of deep, deep personal
kindness and a kind of forgiveness that not many of us would be capable of.
SCHULTZ: Rev. Sharpton, do you think that his impact will -- what kind of
impact will he have post life? What kind of impact will he have on South
Africa? How will he be remembered?
SHARPTON: He`s absolutely the founding father. He changed the country.
It went from in a country that was based on apartheid, on racism, on not
having a full democracy, on clearly not sharing the wealth. He changed all
of that. It became a literally new country. And I think that he will be
remembered in South Africa as the Father of a New Nation. But I think he
will be remembered that universally.
He changed as he changed South Africa and he would always say in speeches
and things that I`ve read, and the few times I was around and -- that it
wasn`t just him. He was part of a movement. They changed all of Africa
and they changed all of the world. The ramifications were way beyond the
The South Africa became the workshop. The work became the whole world.
SCHULTZ: Joining us now on the Ed Show, Charlene Hunter-Gault, an NBC News
analyst and friend of the Mandela family.
Charlene, your emotions tonight. What can you tell us about the passing of
CHARLENE HUNTER-GAULT, NBC NEWS ANALYST: Well, you know, we`ve all been
prepared for this. I`m getting feedback here. It`s a little difficult.
We`ve all been prepared for this and yet when it comes, I have to say, I
shed a tear primarily because I knew Nelson Mandela as everything else
Sharpton just said he was, but I also knew him as a person.
When I got -- just before he took the Oath of Office to become the
President of a new South Africa back in 1994, I was interviewing him, my
second interview. I interviewed him first when he`s first got out of
prison. And I told him with utmost sadness that I would not be at his
inauguration. And he sort of looked at me quizzically and I said, "Well,
let me explain." I said, "My son (Chuma) is graduating from Emory
University on the same day," and before I could finish, he said, "Well,
you`ve got to be there." He said "You can see me anytime."
And as it turns out, that was true. Whenever I needed to see Nelson
Mandela for any reason, he always made himself available. And so while he
was, in a way, an almost a mythical figure in some sense because, you know,
he carried that mystique around but he could be very warm. He could be
grandfatherly. And it was just a pleasure to know him.
So today, I`m a little surprised that myself, I shed a tear even though I,
like the rest of the world, have been prepared for this day as I think.
You know, in a funny kind of way, he was such an extraordinary human being
that all these weeks and months that we`ve been watching him on a
ventilator and thinking in his health, you know, you keep thinking maybe
he`s preparing us. And in the end, I think he did.
I think the country will be sad. I think the world will be sad. I will be
sad, but at the same time, what I`m hoping is that the things that you
heard Rev. Sharpton say he stood for will come alive again. Because I
think new democracies like South Africa, you need to be reminded
occasionally about what a more perfect union as we have here in America is
really about. And I think that these young democracies, they take their
baby steps and they sometimes stumble.
And so one of the things I`m hoping that Nelson Mandela`s passing will do
is remind South Africans, the leaders as well as the people who follow what
he stood for, the wonderful things that he stood for for his country and
then help them continue on. Because, you know, South Africa next year will
celebrate its 20th year of a nonracial democracy. And as Rev Sharpton
said, that was Nelson Mandela`s stamp on that country.
And so in his passing, one hopes that, you know, in the middle of the
sadness, people will also remember what he stood for and what he wanted out
of his own country and the world.
SCHULTZ: Charlene Hunter-Gault with us here tonight in the passing of
President Obama will deliver a statement on the passing of former South
African President coming up here in about four and a half minutes. As soon
as the president comes out, we will bring you his remarks live, President
Obama to speak from the White House in just a few moments.
Let`s bring in NBC`s Andrea Mitchell. Andrea, such a full-life led by
Nelson Mandela. And if you could speak about the escalating international
pressure to release him back in 1990, what was that like? This must have
been a real global effort.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Ed, it was indeed a global effort and
it began even before that. During the Reagan years initially President
Reagan was very much against being against apartheid and he was led
reluctantly to the position.
Finally, of opposing apartheid parted by George Schultz, his Secretary of
State and by Dick Lugar, then still a rising star but a very strong
presence on foreign policy in the Republican Party, then a Senator from
India and the former senator. And there was a global push for this from
faith leaders, from anti-segregations here in this country.
We heard just now the Secretary General of the United Nation speaking that
no one has done more. No one in our era, in our generation has done more
to fight discrimination, then the moral leadership, the moral example of
this man who suffered for 27 years yet came out of prison with his then
wife, Winnie, at his side -- and she had been prison -- imprisoned in
horrible conditions for 18 months at that that.
They had been jointly leaders in the ANC and they came out of prison March
-- in that March. And he -- from then on -- from his days in prison spoke
of reconciliation and it was that for that that he won with De Klerk, his
former oppressor. Of course the Nobel Prize, and went on as he became the
first elected president of a Democratic South Africa.
The founder the George Washington and the Abraham Lincoln of his country,
he helped sign into law, the law that outlawed discrimination against the
It was that belief and reconciliation that created the new South Africa and
that was a model for nations, for peoples around the world, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Andrea did he do it with kindness?
MITCHELL: He did it with love. He did it with kindness. He did it with
wit, with humor. When he came here, he`s so in impressed American
presidents. We know how close he was with Bill Clinton who went on his
94th birthday. He was already ailing but Clinton went in July of 2012 to
celebrate that 94th birthday with him.
He was too ill in June of this past year to be visited by President Obama
and his family. They very much wanted to. But he was such an inspiration
for a young Barack Obama as a college student, as a community leader, as a
law student. And we saw how important it was to President Obama to bring
his girls to Robben Island, and to show them by example, the tiny space in
which this great man lived.
And he just had the towering strength and moral strength of the great
leaders of the past, of Gandhi, of Abraham Lincoln, of others that we can
think of. But there was something so profoundly large in his spirit and
the way that he addressed even those of us who were younger reporters .
MITCHELL: . in the foreign press corps, always with respect and with
SCHULTZ: We`re just moments away from President Obama going to give some
words to the world here from the White House in the passing of Nelson
Andrea, again, this man must have admired America and the struggle in our
country. And did he want to use that as a model for freedom in South
Africa? How close was he to the American dream?
MITCHELL: Very much so. He liked to come here. He was very close to a
number of American presidents. And he -- I think he absorbed models --
excuse me -- my voice is a little choked up. But he absorbed models from
freedom movements around the world and made them applicable to South
And we saw in Bosnia and Herzegovina and other ethnic and religious wars
that followed, that it was that model of reconciliation was very important
model for what happened in North Africa.
So, others followed his lead in -- and it`s long been his hope with the
Palestinians and the Israelis would come to that kind of accord. He was
very close to Saudi leaders. They helped him and his foundation and we
know he lost one son to AIDS-related syndromes and then became very active
at his foundation has in raising money to combat the scourge of AIDS in --
throughout the world, throughout Africa and certainly in his country.
And just think of the economic powerhouse that South Africa became as it
became transformed. None of that would have happened had he not reached
out to the white minority and proved that there could be investment and
there could be a successful model for the rest of the world despite the
bloodied history of South Africa and all that he had experienced himself.
I mean that is -- and we think of it in a religious context. We can think
of it in what we think of as Christ-like in just a model, the religious
model, of loving the oppressor and finding humanity in all human beings.
That was Nelson Mandela.
SCHULTZ: Loving his oppressor. You`re watching MSNBC. We are covering
the death of Nelson Mandela, former South African President. Nelson
Mandela has died at the age of 95. We are waiting for a statement from the
White House, President Obama, to address the world here in just a moment.
He lived a long and inspirational life. Rev. Sharpton, I mean talk about
tenacity, talk about never giving up. This man had a soul, a model that
any human being would admire.
SHARPTON: You probably would have to say he redefined tenacity, because
when you look at the fact, Ed, 27 years in jail and you must remember, when
he was sentenced, he never thought he would get out again. His life would
have been to die in jail, yet he never gave up. Imagine sitting there day
after day isolated for standing for the liberation of your country and
never knowing over two decades that in 23, 24 years they`re going to start
negotiating this transition.
Imagine how tenacious that is. And then having the strength to love those
that hated you and despised you, and then to bring up about a transition
that you would even be doubted by some of your followers that this is the
Talking about nerves and having a backbone of steel, no one demonstrated
that in history particularly, not in our lifetime, like Nelson Mandela.
SCHULTZ: We`re getting the two-minute warning that President Obama will
speak in just a moment.
Joan Walsh, watching this unfold and remembering this man`s life is going
to be very impactful on a lot of Americans.
SCHULTZ: And a lot of people in this world. How do we view him -- how
will history judge this man?
WALSH: History will judge him as a person of great transformation
globally. He`s fighting for economic justice against poverty. I`m glad
that Andrea brought up his work on the AIDS issue.
He really -- you know, it was not enough for him to transform a country
that badly needed transforming. He was really out to change the world, and
he did so. And, you know, he`s been a powerful example to American civil
rights leaders and really woke up a lot of people to the power, the global
power of the movement.
And, you know, his work is not done. Charlene makes wonderful points. His
work is certainly not done, but nobody could have predicted, you know, this
progress, this transformation, even 25 years ago.
SCHULTZ: Rev. Sharpton, is he the model?
SHARPTON: I think there`s no question. He is the model. I think he`s the
(inaudible). I think he is the star. He`s all of that. I don`t know if
we`ll ever see another Nelson Mandela.
SCHULTZ: Very unique man.
SHARPTON: Very unique in the circumstances he handled it and how he
handled them. And I think that God rewarded him with a long life to be
able to see some of the fruits of his labor come into -- and to being, but
we should not underestimate at all how mammoth what he did was and how he
WALSH: And we don`t often get to see our leaders turn 95. We don`t get to
see a lot of people turn 95, but we`ve lost a lot of global figures to
And so, for this man to emerge from prison and have a long life, and a be a
touch stone .
SHARPTON: And who lived literally for decades in the shadow of death. I
mean he is a man who was on the run. He was a man who was exiled, and then
in jail and to survive all of that was absolutely miraculous. But then to
live to become the president of the nation that imprisoned him and forgive
it and to share getting the Nobel Prize with the God that was his
I mean this is the kinds of things that Andrea was right, is mythical and
it could not be over emphasized the significance and the hope it gave
people all over the world.
SCHULTZ: If you`re joining us, Nelson Mandela, former South African
President, has passed away at the age 95. We now go live to the White
House with President Obama.
BARACK OBAMA, U.S. PRESIDENT: Even from the dark saying "I have fought
against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I
have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all
persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an
ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an
ideal for which I am prepared to die."
Nelson Mandela lived for that ideal and he made it real. He achieved more
that could be expected of any man. And today he`s gone home. And we`ve
lost one of the most influential, courageous, and profoundly good human
beings that any of us will share time with on this earth. He no longer
belongs to us. He belongs to the ages.
Through his fierce dignity and unbending will to sacrifice his own freedom
for the freedom of others, Madiba transforms South Africa and move all of
us. His journey from a prisoner to a president embodied the promise that
human beings and countries can change for the better.
His commitment to transfer power and reconcile with those who jailed him
set an example that all humanity should aspire to whether in the lives of
nations or our own personal lives. And the fact that he did it all with
grace and good humor and the ability to acknowledge his own imperfections
only makes the man that much more remarkable. As he once said, "I`m not a
saint unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying."
I am one of the countless millions who drew inspiration from Nelson
Mandela`s life. My very first political action -- the first thing I ever
did that involved an issue or policy or politics was a protest against
apartheid. I would study his words and his writings. The day he was
released from prison gave me a sense of what human beings can do when
they`re guided by their hopes and not by their fears. And like so many
around the globe, I cannot fully imagine my own life without the example
that Nelson Mandela set. And so long as I live, I will do what I can to
learn from him.
To Graca Machel and his family, Michelle and I extend our deepest sympathy
and gratitude for sharing this extraordinary man with us. His life`s work
meant long days away from those who loved him most, and I only hope that
the time spent with him these last few weeks brought peace and comfort to
To the people of South Africa, we draw strength from the example of renewal
and reconciliation and resilience that you made real -- a free South Africa
at peace with itself. That`s an example to the world, and that`s Madiba`s
legacy to the nation that he loved.
We will not likely see the likes of Nelson Mandela again, so it falls to us
as best we can to floor (ph) the example that he set -- to make decisions
guided not by hate but by love, never discount the difference that one
person can make, to strive for a future that is worthy of his sacrifice.
For now, let us pause and give thanks for the fact that Nelson Mandela
lived, a man who took history in his hands and bent the arc of the moral
universe towards justice. May God bless his memory and keep him in peace.
SCHULTZ: President Obama live at the White House. Nelson Mandela passing
away today at the age of 95. Clearly the President -- affected by the loss
of a great man, says he drew inspiration from Mandela -- a man of courage
compassion now belongs to the ages. Rev. Sharpton, your thoughts.
SHARPTON: I think that the President made a very effective statement. I
think he hit it right on the head when he`s talked about the first
political activity he ever engaged in was the fight against apartheid
around Nelson Mandela and the fight for the freedom in South Africa. And I
think that many people -- I grew up in the civil rights movement in the
North, but the first foreign policy move that I could think of -- I was too
young to fight Vietnam, was around South Africa.
And I think that what the President`s statement did was bring home to all
of us where this fight was in our own lives which is why the death of
Nelson Mandela, even though he`s 95, is so personal to millions that you`ll
see over the next days and weeks and months to come because we all were
deeply touched by what he represented. We were touched personally. This
is just wasn`t something going on over there. We all were involved in
SCHULTZ: I think we could sense the profound effect that Nelson Mandela
had on President Obama. Just watching him speak a few moments ago saying
that he was a man guided by hopes not fears. I think we can hear a lot of,
you know, in Barack Obama the President of United States that was Nelson
WALSH: Yeah. Yeah. I think that this President has thrived against odds
to model reconciliation and, you know, has turned the other cheek too many
times for some of his progressive allies. But, you know, you do see in his
somberness and sadness there as the sense that he drew a lot of courage and
a lot of lessons from Nelson Mandela.
And, you know, a lot of us, you know, coming of age after the Civil Rights
Movement, after the Anti-War Movement, the struggle to get our campuses to
do best. That`s what, you know .
WALSH: . that`s what you did if you were on the left in, you know, the
`70s and `80s. And we were successful, you know? And we were part of a
global movement. And it really -- you know, it was a time of a lot of
setbacks in American politics and, you know, the age of Reagan and being a
-- you know, kind of being a do-gooder in the Age of Reagan it was not
always clear what to do, right? And, you know, that was -- that gave you a
feeling of you do small things when you can. And .
WALSH: . they matter.
SCHULTZ: Let`s go back to Andrea Mitchell, NBC News. Andrea, clearly the
President moved by the impact of Nelson Mandela and certainly heartfelt by
the impact that he had on the world.
That was very clear tonight that the President moved by this.
MITCHELL: Absolutely right. You and Joan, and the Rev. Al. This was a
moment for this President because arguably there would not have been an
African-American President in this -- in 2008 if there hadn`t been the
model of leadership across racial and ethnic binds of Nelson Mandela on the
world stage for so many years. The fact that he reached out, as we said,
to de Klerk and negotiated the transition in South Africa that became a
model for the world. And he was clearly so important.
The President said that this was his first political activity for many
people. The Civil Rights Movement here in the United States was the first
political activity for people of Barack Obama`s generation who were
interested in equal justice. It was the Anti-Apartheid Movement. And that
became the first real success. It was an heroic exit from the jail on
February 11th, 1990. And to think that by 1994, he`d been elected
President In the first democratic election.
MITCHELL: That was the reconciliation model that .
MITCHELL: . it should be followed everywhere.
SCHULTZ: You know, Andrea, just yesterday, the President talked about
income inequality and upwards .
SCHULTZ: . mobility at the Center for American Progress. Based on what we
know and what we have witnessed of Nelson Mandela there, you could say that
there was a lot of Nelson Mandela in that message yesterday.
MITCHELL: He had drawn upon that lesson that was clearly in that speech
and other speeches. This was the prime influence on him growing of age as
a political person. And why it was so important, as I say, to bring his
girls there to Robben Island and for them to understand in the physical
space that Nelson Mandela lived in for 27 years.
You know, his vision was ruined by chopping rocks and later had other
health issues because of those years in jail, but he never seemed angry,
resentful or bitter. He always put his own suffering to good use.
And think about "Invictus", the Morgan Freeman movie. And what he did with
a previously all white rugby sport. I mean, it`s so many aspects of South
African life. His first impulse was to bring people together not drive
SCHULTZ: Andrea, recall the moment he spoke in front of the joint session
of the Congress. What impact did he have? What was that like?
MITCHELL: Well, it was profoundly moving. We`ve had other foreign
leaders, other great leaders come and speak to Congress, but I don`t think
I`ve ever seen a rush to be there and to be in the moment as when Nelson
Mandela arrived here. Just the fact that he was in Washington and in the
halls of Congress, and, you know, presidents of both parties eventually
understood he was not only a hero, certainly he was much closer to Bill
Clinton than to Hillary Clinton and to Barrack Obama then their
But he reached across party lines also and in their -- and the fact that
George W. Bush might not have done as much as he did with PEPFAR and all of
the other big advances and contributions that his administration made to
Africa, South Africa, and neighboring countries if not for the leadership
of the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
SCHULTZ: And, Andrea, just how close was Nelson Mandela with former
president Bill Clinton? Ideologically did they have those deep
discussions? Did they see the world the same way? Was their struggle the
same? Did they parallel one another in their thinking?
MITCHELL: Oh they were -- if you could them political soul mates, Bill
Clinton so identified with Mandela, the struggle and what he had
accomplished. And he was really a hero for people of Clinton`s age, of my
age and of Hillary Clinton. As much, you know, my people as well as people
of all color, because he represented the good that could come out of
SCHULTZ: He certainly did. Andrea Mitchell, NBC News. Let`s not go to
Joy Reid of TheGrio. Joy how impactful will Nelson Mandela be in American
life moving forward?
JOY REID; MANAGING DIRECTOR; TheGRIO: Well, you know, Ed, I think, you
know, he truly is one of history`s greatest citizens. I mean if you think
about the three big campus movements stretching back to the 1960s and `70
and into the `80, it was really, you know, the Civil Rights Movement, the
Vietnam War, the Anti-War movement and the Mandela Movement on campuses all
across this country.
American kids who had never been to the continent of Africa but who
identified with the reality of the suffering of 85 percent of that
population who had no rights (inaudible). And, you know, I was thinking
just listening to you guys talking, Ed, you know, my father is African, he
is from the Congo. And when I was a kid he, you know, he used to go to
South Africa on business, he`s on the mining industry and we just used to
marvel that he could go into that country and as a black man have more
right than 85 percent of the people that he would come in contact with in
They had literally not right. And the extraordinary brutality that was
required to maintain a system where 15 percent of the population, utterly
and absolutely suppressed 85 percent of the population who are reduced
essentially to a serve-all class that their only worth on the earth was to
work in the mines, to work in the homes of white citizens.
Just the brutality of that when you measure that as against the grace and
the graciousness of somebody who was thrown into prison for 27 years simply
for asking for his people who were the native people of that country to
have just the basic dignity, the right to vote, the right to walk freely
without a pass, having to show a pass everywhere they went. It`s
incredible that he came out of that situation so dignified and so gracious
toward the people who had oppressed him and so many South Africans.
SCHULTZ: How could you not be bitter after 27 years in prison? This is
the remarkable feat of this man`s character, I think, that he was stayed so
focused on the big picture on what he needed to accomplish with his life
and that country.
REID: No, absolutely and you think about countries in Africa like Zimbabwe
-- in mean, there was a -- the transition from colonial rule to black
African rule was not peaceful in much of Africa. And even in South Africa,
a lot of that struggle was violent struggle including when Nelson Mandela
was the head of the African National Congress. And it was taking place in
the conflicts of the Cold War.
So the Reagan Administration considered them to be Marxists and terrorists
and there was this fear that they we`re infiltrated with communism. And so
they didn`t have necessarily universal support. So, I mean that struggle -
- remember, Ed, the struggle to get a South Africa booted out of the
Olympics when Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fist on -- at the
Olympics in that Black Power salute.
It wasn`t just about African-American issues and black power, they were
also protecting South African Rhodesia being in the Olympic. So this is
something that deeply touched African-Americans in the Civil Rights
Movement as Rev. Al said, and I think every American who had a basic sense
SCHULTZ: We`re covering the passing of the former South African President
Nelson Mandela, who passed away late this afternoon at the age of 95. Just
moments ago, President Obama spoke about the impact that Mandela had on the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I cannot fully imagine my own wife without the example that Nelson
Mandela set, and so long as I live I will do what I can to learn from him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Joan Walsh, you just get the feeling watching the President right
there how profoundly affected he was by this man`s life.
WALSH: Yeah, you do. You know, he`s lost a great example, but he`s still
a great example to us. We`ll always have him in that sense.
You know, I`m also struck tonight thinking about Harry Belafonte who was
somebody that, you know, Nelson Mandela reached out to him was kind of his
guide and greeter when he came to this country. And what a symbol that was
of the way that Nelson Mandela himself wanted to acknowledge his
relationship with the American Civil Rights Movement, and that he was
conscious of his legacy to people but also the people around the globe who
were his brothers and sisters and contributed to that struggle.
So many Civil Rights leaders came to understand the role of racism globally
and took part in the struggle to the best new South Africa and to end
And, you know, we`re not, as white Americans necessarily, used to looking
to an African nation, to any other nation because we`re exceptional, right?
To any other nation as an example for us. But really in many ways, I mean,
South Africa has done a lot of things right and really is an example to the
globe for -- how to move toward a nonracial, multiracial democracy and do
it with a lot of passion.
He was a revolutionary. I don`t want to sugarcoat that. You know, he
believed in a real transformation but, you know, it was done in the end, it
was done peacefully and just, you know, beautifully.
SCHULTZ: Charlene Hunter-Gault, if you`re still with us, I`d like to get
your reaction to President Obama`s statement just a moment ago.
HUNTER-GAULT: I thought it was pretty much what I expected because I`ve
read about and knew about the role that Mandela -- the impact that Mandela
had on the young Barack Obama when he was a student. And, you know, he was
recently in South Africa and was unable to see former President Mandela
because he was so ill. But I thought that it was what I expected him to
He was a young man in his formative years and was very much affected by
Nelson Mandela. And so I was very pleased to hear the kind of tribute that
he paid and I`m hoping that the world will feel in much the same way even
if they didn`t have the experience that President Obama had, and would not
be able to articulate it as he did. Because I think that there are lessons
that we need to continue to learn from Nelson Mandela and maybe this
passing at this moment will help bring many of those lessons that so many
of your guests have said today to the four.
SCHULTZ: Yeah. "Guided by hopes not fears," that`s how the president
described Nelson Mandela. Personally he said he drew tremendous
inspiration from Mandela.
Reaction to Mandela`s death is coming in from world leaders, David Cameron,
Prime Minister Britain twitted "A great light has gone out in the word."
Former President Jimmy Carter says "Mandela`s passion and freedom and
justice created new hope for generations of oppressed people worldwide."
And former President George H.W. Bush said "He was a man of tremendous
moral courage who changed the course of history in his country."
And clearly this man had a global impact and did it with kindness,
compassion, courage. President Obama saying that "He belongs to the ages."
And Dr. James Peterson with us tonight from Lehigh University. Professor,
good to have you with us. Your thoughts on the passing of Nelson Mandela.
What kind of impact can he have on Black youth in this country?
JAMES PETERSON, LEHIGH UNIVERSITY: Well, it`s overwhelming, I think just
to think about, you know, his passing and his life. And I hope that our
conversation will be about the celebration of his life and what he meant.
And I think what his legacy means to young people is really, really
important because you have to understand that very early -- people ask
well, "How can you do 27 years? How can he forgive his oppressors?" You
know, "How can he be so consensus oriented in such a contentious
Very early on his career as an activist he understood and was prepared to
lay down his life for his principles. And I think that kind of conviction
is what carried him through all of his powerful and important activist and
that everyone from Joy, to Andrea, to Rev. Al, to Joan has all been talking
about it. But for young people, pay attention to his ideology, to his
doctrines. Go see the movie "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" which is
based on his autobiography.
I just did a talk back in New York City for the Lehigh University Asa
Packer society about the film -- a powerful film. And what you can learn
from the film from his memoir and from his life is that he was invested in
revolution but he was also invested in consensus and inclusion, right?
Part of the love ethic that sort of underwrites all of the work that Nelson
Mandela did throughout his life has to do with him being inclusive. And I
think what young people can learn from that, particularly young activists,
is it`s less about like a compromise and, you know, comprise is important,
and more about consensus and a love ethic that allows you to focus more on
inclusivity like including people as opposed to excluding them.
Ed, I think he has those principles that allowed him, that just guided him
through everything. And so a powerful, powerful moment for us in world
history and hopefully we will celebrate the legacy of Nelson Mandela from
here on out.
SCHULTZ: I think that Nelson Mandela is going to have a tremendous impact
on minorities in this country and the struggle we see in this country right
PETERSON: He already has .
SCHULTZ: . when it comes to voting rights. And the challenge that he`s
had to -- had to all communities across America when it comes to
availability to the polls, the number of machines that are out there. I
mean you can just go right down the list. Nelson Mandela .
DYSON: One person, one book.
SCHULTZ: . would have been in -- Nelson Mandela would have been in the
forefront fighting for equality and access as much as anyone else. Let me
bring in Dr. Michael Eric Dyson who has met Nelson Mandela. Dr. Dyson,
good to have you with us tonight. What can you take from that visit that
you had from this world leader who certainly changed this country and the
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Well, as everybody has indicated, a man of
extraordinarily humility. I had the opportunity -- and right after he got
out of prison to travel to London with the Rev. Jesse Jackson to meet with
Mr. Mandela and Mrs. Mandela in Oliver Tambo`s flat in London.
It was a very small apartment where we met and it was extraordinary. I was
in the room with living history. I understood that I was in the presence
of greatness. And this man`s humility, as Rev. Sharpton said earlier about
the combination of humility and gravitas.
There`s no question that Nelson Mandela was a man who embodied what Martin
Luther King, Jr. talked about in referring to Hagel as the Zeitgeist, the
spirit of the times. And the Zeitgeist guys rested upon him. Here was a
man who without a dictatorial sense of directing human history or those
around him and a man who didn`t presume to be the mouthpiece for God,
nevertheless spoke for millions and millions of people, not only in South
Africa but around the world about the redemptive courage it took to forgive
your enemies into greatness.
He forgave South Africa into its future. His love ethic that Dr. Peterson
just spoke about was the predicate for the expansion of opportunity for
Africans who were black to join with Africans who were white and others to
forge the future of that nation.
And what`s interesting, as many people criticize Mr. Obama here, President
Obama, who of course was influenced by him, and I was at the White House
the other night when that film was screened and to have the opportunity to
see, you know, Barack Obama introduce a film about Nelson Mandela was a bit
of living history itself. But what we must remember is that there were
many criticisms about Nelson Mandela as well.
"Oh my God, he`s comprising too much. Oh my God, he`s giving up too much
territory. Oh my God, he`s surrendering and ceding the legitimacy of our
claims against the future of South Africa by trying to build consensus with
the white people."
But Mr. Mandela understood there would never be a future that was dependent
upon bitterness or hatred, and the self destruction that would be in the
offering were South Africans who were black to not be able to forgive.
That doesn`t mean that you don`t remember usefully and that you get
involved with amnesia, it means that you put aside the viciousness of the
past in order to embrace the greatness of the future. And when I met him
and shook his hand, and then shook Mrs. Mandela`s hand I knew that these
people were living embodiments of the very love ethic that so many of us
talk about in abstract principle but that they lived into flesh.
SCHULTZ: How is he going to be remembered by the white community in South
Africa, Dr. Dyson?
DYSON: Well .
SCHULTZ: A man that change society?
DYSON: I mean, look, of course there were some who were intransigent and
recalcitrant racists who will see him as the token of the loss of their
power but the better informed and well regarded white South Africans will
understand that this man saved them.
Martin Luther King, Jr. used to always say that look justice in America
will not only redeem and save black people, it will save America.
Mr. Mandela, Nelson Mandela, President Mandela, Activist Mandela,
Revolutionary Mandela saved the future of South Africa the moment he
ascended to the heights of his own presidency and he embrace white South
Africans because he understood that the economy of South Africa would not
do well without the intentions of those white South Africans being brought
into the largest circle of South African economic and political privilege.
So he understood that but at the same time what he understood is that
justice had to be done and that black people who had been long denied must
now be recognized as human beings. And so he didn`t dismiss the humanity
of white people. He embraced it by insisting that the humanity of the
black Africans could be joined with the humanity of white Africans and
others to indeed forge that nation. And so they will remember him, if they
are righteous, as a man who indeed saved their nation.
SCHULTZ: All right. Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, please stay with us. Joining
me now is ITN reporter, Rohit Kachroo, who is outside the Mandela home in
Johannesburg, South Africa. Rohit, if you could tell us the scene outside
the Mandela home and the reaction from those who are outside the home
tonight. Good evening.
ROHIT KACHROO; ITN REPORTER: And good evening to you, close to 1:00 in the
morning actually and in the last hour or so we`ve seen a string of
relatives of Nelson Mandela, members of his family who have been streaming
in and polices escorts as well.
And around us, this huge crowd building of dozens of well wishers singing
songs in the apartheid struggles singing the South African National Anthem
with all of it`s 12 languages, this musical representation of this
multicultural, multicolored society.
And what`s fascinating around here is how young this crowd is. I would
estimate that at least two-thirds of the 100 or so people here are in the
age of 25. They have no memory of apartheid.
They have no memory of Nelson Mandela being imprisoned on Robben Island.
They have no memory of those years when his face could not be published and
that he was hardly spoken about in the official media here.
It`s a fascinating reflection on his legacy. And of course people have
been expecting this moment. He went in to hospital six months ago. He`s
been incredibly ill for several years. This moment was predictable for a
95-year-old man but it was still painful nonetheless and people here, close
to one 1:00 in the morning, still digesting this news, the most sorrowful
news in the history of modern South Africa ever since the birth of its
democracy perhaps in 1994, But Nelson Mandela is dead at age 95 years old.
SCHULTZ: Rohit Kachroo with us from Johannesburg, South Africa tonight
outside the home of the deceased former South African President, Nelson
Mandela passing away today at the age of 95.
Joy Reid still with us tonight and also Joan Walsh. Interesting, Joan, how
he was mentioning the demographics of the age of the people out there. I
mean obviously this man had a huge impact for the ages, as President Obama
said tonight, I mean who belongs to the ages, and the songs that were
relevant at the era of his struggle being played outside his home, I think
that`s -- that`s very touching.
WALSH: What a powerful symbol that young people would show up, you know,
so many -- so many times you have political events where, you know, the
crowd is older and it`s more about looking backwards kind of thing, but to
know that so many young people know the meaning of this moment and the
meaning of this man actually gives me a lot of hope. It`s not necessarily
something I would have predicted and I`m really inspired by it.
SCHULTZ: Joy Reid, what does that signal to you? What do you make of the
people outside of Nelson Mandela`s home, the impact that he has left on
their lives playing songs of yesteryear era that represented that of the
REID: No, I mean absolutely, I think that Nelson Mandela who started of as
a, you know, revolutionary figure, a figure of great fear for white south
Africans, wound up being really the most unifying figure in the country
who`s sort of allowed South Africa to be one country, to be a single
country were black and white could feel a part of it, you know? There was
even sort of the back and forth over how -- what would they do with the
flag? What would be the national anthem? Would African still be, you
know, the official language or English or what.
There were so many things that were tearing South Africa apart throughout
the history of that country, the largest of which of course was just the
raw oppression of the vast majority of people there. But Nelson Mandela
really was a truly unifying figure.
We have white south African who`s written a piece for us that`s going to be
on TheGrio tomorrow who wrote about the fact that, in the end, white South
Africans embraced Nelson Mandela greatly because he offered sort of path
back to redemption for the country, a path back to the world of nations.
Remember South Africa became a Pariah nation because of apartheid. But
Mandela blessed to the country`s union and allowed it to come back into the
family of nation, and he did that through his shear grace.
SCHULTZ: Joy, talk more about your father and what impact Nelson Mandela
had on your dad.
REID: Well, you know, I mean my father didn`t live with us. My mother and
he met in the United States but he lived in Africa my entire life, he`s
from the Congo, and continues to live in the Congo. But when we would talk
to him, it was always on the phone and he would tell us some of the things
he was doing. One of them was doing work in South Africa. He is in the
And we would just think it was extraordinary. I mean when I was kid, I
mean this in the 1980s when black South Africans had literally know rights,
but that`s a foreigner because, he wasn`t, quote, "one of their black," he
had a lot more freedom of movement and the ability to do things there. But
just the orientation of black Africans toward their countries exit from
colonialism is a really big issue for black Africans. And it`s something
that people really wrestle with.
And the notion of South Africa as a country that -- rather than shaking
off, you know, the bonds of colonialism really had the white minority
pressed down on the 85 percent majority of the country and keep them
suppressed through shear naked force and brutality.
And it was an issue that was a sticking point outside of South Africa
obviously around the world. So we go grew up with just this orientation
towards South Africa being really kind of personal on us and really talking
about it even with my dad as kids and really understanding that this was --
this was a freedom struggle. It was a revolutionary struggle and Nelson
Mandela, as other people have said, had sometimes -- was seen as, you know,
almost too accommodating when he came out.
REID: But he really did allow that country to reconcile. There was no
other person I don`t think that could have brought that country together
the way he did.
SCHULTZ: The news coming just over an hour ago that former South African
President Nelson Mandela has died at the age of 95. And just within the
last half hour, President Obama came out and talked about this world
leader, this transformer, this human being what he meant to America, what
he meant to the world, what he meant to South Africa, the impact they had
and his legacy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We`ve lost one of the most influential, courageous and profoundly
good human beings that any of us will share time with on this earth. He no
longer belongs to us, he belongs to the ages
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Guided by the hopes not fears is also how the President described
Nelson Mandela, said he drew inspiration from Mandela, had a profound
effect on his life and I think that you could see that in the statement
that the President was giving tonight.
Nelson Mandela passing away at the age of 95. I was also impressed by the
comment of Charlene Hunter-Gault, a friend of the family from NBC News who
told us, "We knew this was coming," but she still was shedding a tear
The passing of someone of this tremendous world impact certainly is going
to have a profound effect on many people but she being close to the family
even when it happens when you know it`s going to happen, it has that affect
A friend of Bill Clinton, a friend of Hillary Clinton, a friend of former
presidents, the man who spoke with tremendous heart and passion to the
United States Congress was friends to numerous presidents and is going to
be remembered as a man who really changed the world. A man who undoubtedly
never gave up the struggle for freedom, the struggle for civil rights,
keeping his eye on the big picture, never putting himself before anything
It was the struggle, it was a story of success, Nelson Mandela, a
revolutionary throughout his life, a man who never gave up, spent 27 years
behind bars, came back and on February 2nd, 1990 amidst the escalating
international pressure, South African President, F. W. de Klerk lifted the
ban on the ANC and released Mandela from prison.
And Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in December of 1993, and
following in 1994, April of that year, and the South Africa`s first truly
democratic collection where all races were allowed to participate, Nelson
Mandela was overwhelmingly elected to the Presidency of South Africa.
He leaves us this day at the age of 95.
Rev. Al Sharpton picks up our continuing coverage on the passing of Nelson
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