Nightly News   |  December 06, 2013

Americans ‘transformed’ by Mandela’s 1990 US tour

More than two decades after Nelson Mandela’s US visit, those who saw him describe it as the experience of a lifetime. NBC’s Rehema Ellis reports.

Share This:

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

>>> finally tonight, just months after his release from prison nelson mandela traveled to this country and electrified crowds. among them back then was rehema ellis who has our look back tonight with some of those who mandela touched. [ applause ]

>> reporter: nelson mandela 's visit began in new york with a ticker tape parade . [ cheers ]

>> reporter: and a hero's welcome at yankee stadium .

>> i am a yankee! [ cheers ]

>> reporter: mumombo, then 18 years old, remembers that summer day.

>> there were people hanging from the gates.

>> reporter: he was there when mandela visited brooklyns where racial tensions were high.

>> i run into people to this day who talk about how that experience transformed them.

>> reporter: in boston people were excited --

>> i was reporting at madison park high school when mandela arrived.

>> mr. nelson mandela . [ cheers and applause ]

>> reporter: inside the school, pure excitement.

>> you all have filled our hearts.

>> reporter: 23 years later i remember that as if it were yesterday. you heard about this guy and history and suddenly you know he's coming to the visit your high school . it was a surreal moment.

>> in detroit --

>> reporter: tens of thousands flocked to tiger stadium . owen beaver was in the motor city .

>> reporter: i met him for the first time. we embraced.

>> it was a whirlwind trip. eight cities, 12 dais. los angeles , washington, d.c., atlanta.

>> reporter: to be so young and to meet a leader as great as mandela was a really big moment.

>> this woman was just 10 years old at the time, on the tarmac in atlanta.

>> reporter: i just remember looking into his face. even as young as i was, i remember thinking just what a kindness there was about him and his eyes thinking how amazing it was for somebody who had been through so much to not have a hardened heart.

>> nelson mandela , aen man who survived prison to become president, inspiring countless people, changing how so many view the world and themselves. rehema ellis, nbc news, new york.

>> reporter: