Meet the Press   |  December 08, 2013

World mourns Mandela's passing

A special group of Meet the Press guests reflects on the astounding life and legacy of anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> is a day of prayer and reflection in south africa as the nation mourns its former president, nelson mandela . flags are also at half staff at the white house this morning. president obama and the first lady will be going to south africa on tuesday. and former presidents jimmy carter and bill clinton will also be going to south africa this week. nelson mandela will be laid to rest this week. charlene hunter-gault who worked for npr during nelson mandela 's presidency, and from new york, special correspondent tom brokaw . here is tom back in 1990 interviewing nelson mandela after he was released from prison. it's a great photo. the reverend jesse jackson is here, one of the first people to greet mandela after he was released from prison. what a great day that was. we'll talk about it. and he wrote a book entitled " mandela 's way." and charles ogletree who marched for mandela 's freedom and subsequently met with him several times. welcome to all of you. it's a great privilege to have this conversation. i want to begin in south africa with charlene hunter-gault and have her set the scene with this national period of mourning and reflection and celebration. good morning, charlene .

>> reporter: right now, david, it is pouring down rain, and in south africa rain is a sign of good for tutune, so maybe it is in honor of mandela . up until this moment, people have been dancing in the streets, they've been singing songs, they've been recalling aspects of nelson mandela 's health, and we're near his house where i first interviewed him when he got out of prison. so this is not a sad time, even though there are tears she had from time to time, but south africa adored the world that mandela created, and they are celebrating his life in every possible way that you could think of, including dancing in the streets.

>> which is good to see. well, charlene , you'll be with us. it's kind of loud where you are and you'll be joining our conversation. tom brokaw , i want to talk about the man. it is unusual to speak of a major politician which, after all, is what he was, a revolutionary, a prisoner and a politician. but we speak of him in terms of personal virtue. they seem to loom largest.

>> it was a perfect combination of a man who has suffered, learned from his suffering and had a vision of what he wanted for his entire country, and then had that wonderful user-friendly personality in which everyone felt connected to him in some fashion. i've been thirnking a lot about him since his death, how it resonated not just in south africa but around the world. we are in need of someone with those qualities. the people who remember john kennedy , he was similar. remembering ronald reagan , he had a lot of the same qualities. at the center of those qualities was a strong vision about what they wanted that would be good for everyone.

>> and reverend jackson, you go back to that seminole moment in 1964 when he's on trial, that speech in the dock that mandela gave. he said, i have cher i should the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. it is an ideal for which i hope to live for and to see realized. but, my lord, if it needs be, it is an ideal for which i am prepared to die.

>> well, he was shaped by persecution and internal will and dignity, and he did not internalize the system. to that extent, he was gracious because of victory. he won the battle over skin color apartheid and political right to vote and legal apartheid and national world opinion . he had a choice at that point to choose revenge or reconciliation. he chose reconciliation as a victor over that system.

>> we'll talk about reconciliation because it is a lasting legacy over his political life .

>> at that moment if he had chosen revenge, then you would have had a bloodshed. he chose to go forth by a kind of hope and not by fear. those are choices the man made.