Meet the Press   |  December 08, 2013

Mandela resisted political pressure

David looks back at some of the political pressures that faced Nelson Mandela and how the anti-apartheid leader still carved his own path.

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

>> wasn't just that personal grace that allows him to say, i want to make a decision to forgive after he had succeeded. but there is a great deal of political pressure to, quote, unquote, not sell out to the national government at the time which he had to resist and say, look, i've got a long view here, and to whites as well.

>> you have to separate his career from dr. king's career. we were in apartheid in 1965 , which was the right to vote. in almost 30 years we had a lead jump on that right to vote and used that vote to empower allies in south africa . going against our own government's policy, i thought the u.s. partnership and britain with south africa would help prop that system up. yet he came out seeing what his options were, and he knew that for giving a forgiving and redeeming had more value than retaliation and revenge. and even today, while we won the apartheid battle against skin apartheid, the apartheid that remains, the apartheid gaps in poverty and elt cahealth care and education, we're still in it but it's just changed phases.

>> one of the things that has to change, and one of the things professor ogletree said about him being a patriot, it is a much different world then than it is now. the great cold war was on at that time and the south african government was aligned with the united states . and people who were seeing that struggle were seeing the south african government as an ally of the united states and not paying enough attention to the big human rights issues. but the big issue going forward now is president zuma in south africa now and does he get the lessons from the life and leadership of president mandela and other leaders in africa, and not just that continent but around the world that they can take something away from that. there are not going to be a lot of people dancing in the streets because they're mourning the loss of mugabwe, for example, next door, but i hope the lesson this week and the days to come, that people will see the real value of the kind of leadership that was not self-centered and it was not based on division but on unification.

>> i do want to chime in on this. there was a great difference between nelson mandela and dr. king, which i'll get to in one second. our two countries were going on divergent paths. apartheid is not that old. it came in in 1948 with the national party . at the same time, america was moving toward civil rights , toward the -- brown versus the board of education was a few years later. he realized south africa was on the wrong side of history. but he also realized, when he came out, he had to repair the breach. part of the reason he never showed his bitterness, which he did have, was that he knew he had to reconcile white and black for a new south africa . the white's business center was the engine of prosperity for africa. south africa couldn't survive without them, he knew that. and that was one reason he never showed the anger or bitterness.

>> the 1986 decision for apartheid here laid the ground work for the apartheid decision there. we had to fight that same system that dr. king started in '63, mandela got out and there was the right to vote, and they had to get this commerce to declare sanctions very reluctant against our system. but the impetus to free that system came from the civil rights struggle on policy. and to think, david, he got off the terrorist list in 2008 . think about that.

>> he had sort of lingered there.

>> he got off the perish list by george bush at