THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
December 5, 2013
Guest: John Lewis, Ron Dellums, Dan Rather
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining us
This is the kind of pass that you had to carry. It had your
fingerprints on it and your photo. And who you worked for and where you
lived. And where you were allowed to go and when you were allowed to go
there and for how long and for what purpose.
Starting in 1950, with the Population Registration Act, everybody in
South Africa had to register with the government by race. A racial review
board, essentially, would give you a look, decide what race they would say
that you were, and they would give you a racial ID card, so you would know
which laws applied to you and what you were allowed to do.
But as 1952, every black person in the country over the age of 16 had
to have not just a racial ID car, like everyone else, but also this
passbook, which any white person could demand to see at any time. And if
you were found to be in a place that was not just reserved for black
people, if your passbook did not explain that you had explicit permission
to be there, as a nonwhite person, then it was illegal for you to there.
And you could be arrested, just for existing. Just not having your
passbook on you at all times was also grounds to be arrested and thrown in
The pass laws meant that by virtue of being black in South Africa, you
were presumed to be a criminal unless you could prove otherwise by having
the proper paperwork. And any white person could challenge you anywhere
for any reason, and if you did not have the passbook, if you did not have
the right documents, if you didn`t have the right written permission to be
where you were, when you were there, then you could be put in jail.
Passbook laws had been around on and off in South Africa since the
18th century and the structure was always the same: white people never
needed them. White people could go wherever they wanted. But non-white
people need, essentially, a permission slip, an internal passport.
Passbook laws of various kinds were not new, but at the end of World
War II, the election in South Africa unexpectedly brought to power a
nationalist government that had run explicitly on a platform that they
called apartness. The word "apartness," in their language was pronounced
apartheid. And so, when the so-called national party came to power in
1948, they started codifying immediately all the various ways that they
could separate the population by race and treat people according to the
ways that they thought the various races should be treated.
In 1949, the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act, which banned people
of different races from getting married to each other. Whether or not you
got married, the Immorality Act of 1950 made sexual relations between
people of different races a criminal act. Also in 1950, the Population
Registration Act, which made everybody in the country register by race and
receive an official racial classification -- black, white, Indian, or
colored. Those were the four categories. And there were a million
subcategories beneath those.
I should say, not beneath white, of course. White was just white.
But for everybody else, it could be a little complicated, depending on what
your review board thought of you.
Also in 1950, the Group Areas Act, which geographically partitioned
the country along racial lines. That one formed the basis for the state
forcibly relocating people within the country by race.
In 1953, the Reservation of Separate Amenities Act. Plus, 1953 that`s
the year before the U.S. Supreme Court declared that separate educational
facilities are inherently unequal, the year before we said, separate but
equal was dead, South Africa codified it, explicitly, for their nation.
The apartness, the apartheid system of separate schools, separate
hospitals, separate beaches, separate buses, separate park benches,
separate everything, everything assigned to specific races, and the lion`s
share of everything, and of course, the best of everything, reserved only
for the white minority.
Black people had no right to vote. People classified as "colored,"
for a while, they had a right to vote specifically for white people to
represent them, but eventually that was stripped too. Only the white
minority had the vote in the end. Only the white minority was represented
in government and only the white minority had any say whatsoever of the
affairs in the nation. Eighty percent of the country lived entirely
segregated and without representation under white rule, 80 percent of the
And by 1960, the resistance to apartheid, the demonstrations against
it, had started to zero in on those passbooks, those pass laws, the
"papers, please" laws, which made your mere existence criminal if you were
challenged by a white person as to what you were doing there.
In 1960, when different resistance movements were competing with each
other about tactics and about strategy, about the best way to try to
overthrow apartheid, just outside of Johannesburg, in a black township
called Sharpeville, somewhere between 5,000 and 7,000 people turned up at
the local police station in Sharpeville and said they wanted to turn
These thousands of people, they turned up and said they all felt that
had they needed to be arrested, they wanted to be arrested, all 5,000 of
them, because they said, they did not have their passbooks, and so they
were turning themselves in for arrest. That act of protest was greeted by
the local police with live ammunition. They shot into the crowd. They
wounded over 150 people, including many women and children. In the end,
the police massacre at Sharpeville killed 69 people.
At the time, Nelson Mandela was in his early 40s. He had joined the
African National Congress, the ANC, way back in 1944. The ANC and the
other major organizations opposing apartheid in South Africa had been
organized as nonviolent movements, nonviolent resistance, and nonviolent
But after Sharpeville, they decided that maybe that wasn`t enough.
After Sharpeville, they decided they would form a paramilitary wing, and
Nelson Mandela was one of the ANC leaders who went underground to help
start it. They said they would target government buildings and strategic
infrastructure and they would try to sabotage the state.
After Sharpeville, the government of South Africa started mass arrests
of ANC leaders and other activists. They banned the ANC. They made it
illegal to be a member of that group. Nelson Mandela was arrested for
treason in 1961, but he was acquitted. He was arrested again in 1962, and
this time, convicted -- convicted of traveling illegally. They sentenced
him to five years hard labor on South Africa`s version of Alcatraz, which,
of course, is Robben Island.
While he was already serving that sentence, while he was already in
prison, they put him on trial again, this time for sabotage. And they
convicted him. And they sentenced him to life in prison, to life on Robben
And so in 1964, he began a new sentence that was a life sentence. And
for the first 18 years of it, his cell on Robben Island had no bed, no
plumbing of any kind. He was permitted one letter every six months. He
was permitted one visitor per year for 30 minutes. He became a symbol
worldwide of the fight to stop apartheid. The South African government
would not allow a picture to be taken of him in prison for decades.
And so, the image, the free Nelson Mandela image, was always him as a
young man in his 40s, as he had been when he`d been locked away, even as he
aged decade after decade in prison. He served 27 years in prison, 18 of
them at hard labor in that island cell before South Africa was finally
ready to give up apartness, to give up apartheid.
And when F.W. de Klerk was collected president of South African in
1989, it was essentially no relent. To finally, at least, start to give up
the arcane and brutal racial system that South Africa invented, it`s hard
to remember, but really, invented after world war ii, after Hitler, and
that they fought for for 50 years against the people that they subjugated
with that system.
F.W. de Klerk was elected in 1989, he then legalized the ANC. He
unbanned the organization. And in February of 1990, he visited then 71-
year-old Nelson Mandela, still imprisoned 27 years later, and he told him
that he was going to set him free the next morning. And on February 11th,
1990, Nelson Mandela emerged.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I now present to you, the great leader who has
been in jail for 25 -- 27 years.
(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
REPORTER: Nelson Mandela speaks after 27 years.
NELSON MANDELA, ANTI-APARTHEID ICON: My friends, comrades, and fellow
South Africans, I great you all, in the name of peace, democracy, and
freedom for all. I stand here before you, not as a prophet, but as a
humble servant for few people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: After 27 years in prison, when Nelson Mandela was released,
he led the negotiations for the ANC, for the end of apartheid. And
apartheid was dismantled.
And on the 27th of April, in 1994, Nelson Mandela was elected the new
president of South Africa, in the first election ever held in that country,
where all adult citizens were welcome to vote, regardless of race.
Millions of people waited in line to vote, in voting that took three days.
And April 27th is now a national holiday in South Africa. It`s called
And when it came time sign the new constitution for South Africa,
which eliminated all vestiges of law by race, President Nelson Mandela went
to Sharpeville to sign the constitution.
Today, at the age of 95, Nelson Mandela died at home in South Africa
at his home in Johannesburg. His family says it was his wish to be buried
in the town where he was born.
Joining me now is Congressman John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia, and
civil rights leader.
Congressman Lewis, thank you for being with us here tonight on this
REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: Thank you very much, Rachel, for having
me, and thank you for that rich history, telling the story, what happened
and how it happened. It is very moving.
MADDOW: I have to ask, after your long career, especially as a young
man in the south, in the American civil rights movement, how did Nelson
Mandela`s work inform your own? What has he meant to you over the years?
What`s been the interplay between our civil rights movement and his
LEWIS: Well, the leadership, the vision, the commitment, the
dedication, the inspiration of this one man meant everything to the
American civil rights movement. I remember it as a young student in
Nashville in 1962 and `63 and `64. We said, if Nelson Mandela can do it,
we can do it. We identify with the struggle.
And when I met him for the first time. He said to me, "John Lewis, I
know all about you. I follow you, you inspired us." And I said, "No, Mr.
Mandela, you inspired us."
So that was just unbelievable relationship between what was happening
in America and what would happen in South Africa. We would say from time
to time, the struggle in Birmingham, the struggle in Selma is inseparable
from the struggle in Sharpeville.
MADDOW: One of the reasons I wanted to talk to you today,
Congressman, was reading about and thinking about and trying to understand
the importance of those decisions that was made by Mandela and other ANC
leaders and other antiapartheid leaders after Sharpeville, when they
decided that nonviolence wasn`t enough. They had been committed to
nonviolence in the way that you have been so overtly committed to
nonviolence, throughout your life, throughout those struggles, even in the
face of incredible physical brutality, and they decided when they saw those
people massacred, that they needed some sort of military response as well.
Never ended up being a key response of their response to apartheid, but
they made that hard decision.
How international were those discussions about the importance of
nonviolence and whether or not it was enough to overthrow governments and
to change the world?
LEWIS: Here in America and around the world, there was ongoing
discussion about the way of peace, the way of love, the way of nonviolence,
appealing the people not to give up.
But Mr. Mandela and the people of South Africa learned and stand in
prison 27 years. He came out committed to the way of peace, to the way of
love, to the way of nonviolence, to the way of reconciliation. In South
Africa, who his leadership, he liberated the spirit of the oppressed and
the spirit of the oppressor.
MADDOW: When you met him, when he was released from prison, you
described a little bit about what conversation was like. What is it --
what did it feel like for you to meet him? Is that an intimidating
prospect? Was it an inspiring prospect? What was that relationship like?
LEWIS: It was both inspiring and intimidating. We greeted each
other. He gave me this unbelievable hug. I hugged him.
He held me tightly and I said, "Thank you, thank you, Mr. Mandela.
Thank you. Thank you for speaking up. Thank you for being such a leader."
I knew I was standing in the midst of greatness. So I was a little
nervous about meeting him. And I had an opportunity to see him several
other occasion, and he just made me feel more human.
MADDOW: Congressman John Lewis, you were the person I wanted to talk
to more than anybody else tonight. Thank you so much for being with us,
sir. I really appreciate you being here.
LEWIS: Thank you.
MADDOW: Thank you.
All right. We`ve got so much more ahead. Please stay with us. Lots
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: I went to see the man who organized this stay-away, the 42-
year-old African lawyer, Nelson Mandela, the most dynamic leader in South
Africa today. The police were hunting for him at the time, but African
nationalists had arranged for me to meet him at his hideout. He is still
underground. This is Mandela`s first television interview. I asked him
what it was that the African really wanted.
MANDELA: The Africans want the franchise on the basis of one man, one
vote. They want political independence.
REPORTER: Do you see Africans being able to develop in this country
without the Europeans being pushed out?
MANDELA: We have made it very clear in our policy that South Africa
is a country of many races. There is room for all the races in this
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You see, I wasn`t born
into a political family. I was not active in student government in high
school. But when I was in college, there was one issue that moved me for
the very first time in my life to become politically active and play a
small leadership role in my community.
The issue was apartheid. And as a young college student, I became
involved in the divestment movement in the United States. I remember
meeting with a group of ANC leaders and hearing stories of their struggles
and of their leader, Nelson Mandela.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was a video birthday message that President Obama
prepared for Nelson Mandela back in 2008.
We`ve got much more ahead. Please stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. JACOB ZUMA, SOUTH AFRICA: He is now at peace. Our nation has
lost its greatest so son. Our people have lost a father. Although we knew
that this day would come, nothing can diminish our sense of a profound and
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: African President Jacob Zuma earlier tonight, announcing the
death of Nelson Mandela in South Africa.
Mr. Mandela was hospitalized this past June because of a recurring
lung infection. In late June, his condition went from serious to critical
and at one point Mr. Mandela was placed on life-support. His family
gathered, seemingly getting ready to say good-bye. For several days in
late June, the whole world braced for the world of Mr. Mandela`s passing.
World leaders from President Obama to the U.N. secretary general, Ban Ki-
moon, offered prayers and remembrances. But Mr. Mandela held on this
By the time of his 95th birthday on July 18th, with crowds gathered
outside his hotel room in Pretoria to sing to him, to celebrate his life,
Mr. Mandela was described by then as responding to treatment and his
doctors said he was steadily improving. By August, Mr. Mandela was
breathing normally. And although he was still battling the lung infection
that had hospitalized him in the first place, in August, he was -- excuse
me, on the first of September, he was discharged from the hospital, so that
he can continue to receive intensive care at home, in Johannesburg. After
he died at his home today in Johannesburg, his home there is where South
Africans have gathered tonight to pay their respects.
Joining us now is NBC News Africa correspondent Rohit Kachroo, who`s
in front of Nelson Mandela`s home right now, tonight, in Johannesburg.
Rohit, thank you -- thank you very much for being with us. What can
you tell us just about the scene where you are and the reaction tonight
ROHIT KACHROO, NBC NEWS: Well, Rachel, a quite extraordinary picture
behind us. It`s 4:00 a.m. in the morning here in South Africa and we have
a crowd of hundreds of people who haven`t gone to sleeps, hundreds of
people who, on the whole, fairly young. These are people who are part of
the so-called born free generation, those who have no memory of apartheid,
who were born after the birth of democracy in South Africa, and they have
come here not to mourn.
I`ve not seen a single person here crying. They`re all here to
celebrate. And they`re doing that by singing songs from the antiapartheid
struggle, singing the national anthem, which includes all 12 languages of
South Africa, this sort of musical celebration of the rainbow nation of
multi-cultural South Africa.
And they`re going to keep going. This is a party and, you know, the
mood, the expectation was one of mourning, but actually what people are
celebrating here is not only the life of Nelson Mandela, but what he gave
to all South Africans through his fight against apartheid, through his 27
years in prison, much of the it spent in solitary confinement.
These people, even the youngest ones, are well aware of the life that
they might have lived, had it not been for the sacrifice of Nelson Mandela.
And I suspect that`s a great deal of what`s being celebrated here, early in
the morning here in South Africa outside the home of Nelson Mandela.
MADDOW: Rohit, I wonder if it`s your sense that with the scare this
summer in July in particular, when everybody was so worried that he was
going to pass, and when the world sort of prepare for the idea that he
might die, if that sort of -- if some of the grieving happened then, the
recognition that he was going to pass and people have started to move on to
his legacy, rather than just his loss since then.
KACHROO: Yes, I think that`s a fair statement, Rachel. It`s six
months since he was first admitted to the hospital. He`s been around four
months, firstly seriously ill, then critically ill. Then he was returned
home, discharged from the hospital in September.
But his family made it clear that we weren`t t get too excited,
because his home here had been essentially kited out as an extensive care
unit, right here in the middle of the city, inside his home. So, you know,
there`s been a great deal of grieving in one sense, already, people have
become quite used to this, this enactment, a 95-year-old man with a serious
respiratory illness, who has been incredibly sick for several years now,
dying at this grand old age, and was entirely predictable, but it was
painful nonetheless. Painful in those first few hours, talking to people
here, listening to people (INAUDIBLE) into the radio, but I sense that even
in those few hours since, the mood is slightly changing, as people reflect
on the life of Nelson Mandela and what his sacrifice did for everyone here,
MADDOW: NBC News Africa correspondent Rohit Kachroo, live from
Johannesburg, outside Nelson Mandela`s home -- Rohit, thank you so much for
staying up until the wee hours with us. I really appreciate you being
there. Thank you.
All right. We`ve got lots more to come. Please do stay with us
tonight. Lots ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANDELA: We enter into a covenant that we shall build a society, in
which all South Africans, both black and white, will be able to walk tall,
without any fear in their hearts, assured of their inalienable right to
human dignity, a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: When President Obama visited South Africa this past summer,
he brought his family to Robben Island to see the cell where Nelson Mandela
had been imprisoned by the apartheid regime for so many years. Because Mr.
Mandela had been so ill this year, President Obama did not personally visit
with him while he was on that trip to South Africa.
In fact, this is interesting -- the only time the two men apparently
ever met in person was in 2005 in Washington, when Mr. Obama was just
starting his career in the United States Senate. "The New York Times"
reports that the one visit started when Mr. Mandela`s advisers told him,
while he was on a trip to Washington, that while he was there, he ought to
take a little bit of time to try to meet this rising star young senator who
had given such a great speech at the Democratic National Convention the
And so, Senator Obama got the call, unexpectedly. He was on his way
to meeting on a totally different subject at the time, but he diverted
course in Washington and drove to Mr. Mandela`s hotel room in Washington.
And that is where this picture was taken, which is the only picture of the
two men ever taken.
It was taken by Senator Obama`s personal assistant at the time, who
was driving him to that other meeting when the call came through to please
come meet Nelson Mandela, and that`s the only time they have ever been
We`ll be right back. More to come.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANDELA: Ten days ago, my delegation, my wife and I stepped on the
side of this United States, once more we were received with overwhelming
tributes of friendship and solidarity. It is clear, beyond any reasonable
doubt, that the unbending of our organization came as a result of the
pressures upon apartheid regime by yourselves.
I want to tell you that Oakland it is the last city that I am visiting
in the course of my tour. Let me assure you that despite my 71 years, at
the end of this visit, I feel like a young man of 35.
It is you, the people of the Oakland, the people of Bay Area, who have
given me and my delegation strength and hope to grow back and continue the
You must remember that you are our blood brothers and sisters.
You are comrades in the struggle.
Remember that we respect you, we admire you, and above all, we love
you all. Thank! Thank you!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I was there that day, in person. I was 17 and the Oakland
Coliseum, of all places, in Oakland, California, was Nelson Mandela`s final
stop on a tour of the United States that he took upon his release from
prison after 27 years. This was less than six months after he was freed
from prison. He`s in his 70s. He`d not been free in decades.
And he took this exhausting tour, and you would not think of the Bay
Area and Oakland as being must-do stops on that kind of a tour, but Nelson
Mandela, upon getting out of prison, made a specific point of traveling to
Oakland, California, because Oakland, California, and Berkeley, and San
Francisco all had passed municipal policies that insisting on divesting
stock from any company that did business in South Africa.
Even the longshoreman at the West Coast ports in California had
refused to unload South African goods coming into the ports of the Bay Area
-- all in protest of the apartheid system, all to try to support the fight
against it in South Africa, all to try to pressure the apartheid government
to give up.
And so, Nelson Mandela came all the way to Oakland to say thank you
for doing that. It mattered. It is part of why I am free and it is part
of why apartheid is ending.
And that decision about divestment was not an uncontroversial one in
American politics at the time. President Ronald Reagan was vehemently
opposed to that strategy. He and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
actively imposed sanctions against the apartheid regime. Margaret Thatcher
went so far to call Nelson Mandela a terrorist, but that`s another story.
But under Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, the United States and
the United Kingdom both voted at the U.N. to block international sanctions
against the South African regime.
Despite their opposition, by the late 1980s, there was enough public
momentum in favor of blocking trade to South Africa. There was enough in
favor that the U.S. Congress passed something call the Comprehensive
Antiapartheid Act in 1986. It banned all new investment in South Africa.
It blocked the importing of most South African goods, and President Reagan
was vehemently against it. He went so far as to use his presidential veto
to try to stop it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TV ANCHOR: Mr. Reagan, on Friday, vetoed a bill that imposes
economic sanctions on South Africa. The bill limits U.S. investment in
South Africa and bans U.S. imports of South African uranium, coal, steel,
and agricultural products. Mr. Reagan is opposed to the sanctions, but he
must convince at least 20 senators to change their position is if a veto is
to be sustained. Both sides say that is unlikely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Reagan`s veto was to the sustained. It was
overridden by an overwhelming vote in both the House and the Senate,
include many, many, many members of his own Republican Party. It was the
first override of a presidential veto on a foreign policy issue in the
And anti-apartheid leaders credit those sanctions and credit the
private divestment movement around the United States and around the world
with bringing about the pressure and the isolation that was necessary to
eventually humble the apartheid regime. To humble the ruling South African
government and bring them to the negotiations that eventually freed Nelson
Mandela and brought him into the apartheid system.
The fight here to do that was nothing compared to the fight in South
Africa, but politically, it was a heck of a fight here, too.
Joining us now is former California congressman and former Oakland
mayor, Ron Dellums. He was the sponsor of the 1986 Antiapartheid Act.
Congressman Dellums, it`s nice to see you. Thank you very much for
RON DELLUMS (D-CA), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: It`s an honor to be
here. I`m one of your great fans, my friend.
MADDOW: Well, thank you.
Tell me what led you to sponsor the Antiapartheid Act in the 1986?
DELLUMS: A little-known fact in history is that a group of African-
American employees of the Polaroid Company, which took pictures that were
in the path books of black South Africans during the apartheid regime were
inspired by the organization of the congressional black caucus in late
1971. They came down to Washington, D.C. because they were concerned about
trying to make a statement of divestment, of Polaroid, and its partnership
in the apartheid cooperation in the apartheid effort.
The Congressional Black Caucus asked me to meet with these folks. I
met with them and we agreed to put a peaceful legislation together and I
kept reintroducing it for 15 years and fought every day for 15 years until
we finally got it passed by the House of Representatives. But it was a
small group of militant Polaroid workers who had the courage and the vision
to help begin that process.
MADDOW: When the other side in this American political fight argued
against you, when Ronald Reagan`s side argued that, instead, they wanted
engagement, that divestment would hurt the very people who you were trying
to help and it would hurt black South Africans more than anybody, because
they were economically disadvantaged -- how did you rebut those arguments?
Why did you eventually win such an overwhelming vote?
DELLUMS: Because people understood that if the folks who were feeling
the oppression were the ones arguing for disinvestment, and they were,
South Africans were arguing for divestment, black South Africans,
activists, were arguing for disinvestment. So what we did was simply put
into legislative form the screams of the people in South Africa who were
feeling the pain and the activists in this country, coming out of the civil
rights movement, who understood that pain and were willing to stand with
So, we said, how can you, from the outside, make such a tragic
argument? It was the moral imperative that eventually overcame these
MADDOW: And what -- to what degree do you think divestment in those
sanctions ended up being a tipping point in South Africa? How important
did it end up being, in conjunction with all the work that was, of course,
being done by antiapartheid activists there and around the world?
DELLUMS: A German journalist came to Washington, D.C. several years
later, said that he had done a great deal of research. His research
indicated that F.W. de Klerk and Margaret Thatcher had a conversation.
F.W. de Klerk said to her, what do you think I should do? Her
response was, the (INAUDIBLE) bill passed by voice vote two years ago, it
passed again on a record vote this year. Now, the Democrats control the
Senate. It will pass the Senate. This investment will become the law of
His response was, so what should I do? Her response was, free Mandela
and begin to negotiate a new South Africa while you have leverage, because
if disinvestment becomes the law of the United States, with cooperation
around the world, you will have no leverage.
And so he said, tell Mr. Dellums, that while this bill never became
law, it hung over South Africa like the sword of Damocles.
MADDOW: Wow. Well, California Congressman Ron Dellums, thank you
very much for helping us understand this history on this night of all
nights, sir. It`s invaluable to have your perspective here. Thank you so
DELLUMS: It`s my honor, my friend.
MADDOW: Thank you.
Dan Rather is going to join us next. We`ll be right back. Stay with
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANDELA: At the end, the bloodletting stopped. At the end, goodwill
prevailed. At the end, the overwhelming majority, both black and white,
decided to invest in peace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Our next guest is Dan Rather. Stay with us.
TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS: Nelson Mandela arrives in America, a ready-made
hero with a strong message.
MANDELA: South Africa should be freed.
ANNOUNCER: This is "NBC Nightly News" with Tom Brokaw, reporting
tonight from NBC News headquarters in New York.
BROKAW: Good evening. Nelson Mandela was honored by New York City
today in a way usually reserved for presidents, astronauts, and hometown
World Series champs. He came here to continue his campaign against
apartheid and President Bush said today that U.S. sanctions would stay on
until certain additional steps are taken.
But for the most part, this was a day to celebrate Mandela.
The man who spent 27 years in prison was given a hero`s welcome.
Governor Mario Cuomo calling him a symbol of the indestructibility of the
human spirit. The 71-year-old Mandela seemed tired and not quite ready for
it all. Jesse Jackson gave him a hand with his tie.
Mandela urged the United States to maintain its tough policy against
South Africa, as blacks there struggle for equality.
MANDELA: And the only way in which we can work together on this
difficult road is for you to ensure that sanctions are applied.
CROWD: Mandela! Mandela!
BROKAW: Mandela and his wife, Winnie, stopped by a Brooklyn high
school. They were greeted by 10,000 people.
Then, New York City honored Mandela has no other city can. A ticker
tape parade up Broadway. Mandela said he knew he had friends in New York,
but never dreamed he was so loved.
The key to the city from Mayor David Dinkins. Mandela then talked of
unlocking the shackles of apartheid.
MANDELA: We want those (ph) in South Africa, their country which
vanishes forever, embraces them in all its forms. South Africa should be
freed. This struggle continues. Thank you.
OBAMA: I`m 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 a 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 are 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.
MADDOW: Joining us now is Dan Rather, a man who has interviewed
Nelson Mandela numerous over the years, covered his life in times
intensively. Dan is now the anchor of the special series, "The Big
Interview" on AXS TV. Of course, he`s also a former anchor of the "CBS
Mr. Rather, it`s great to have you here.
DAN RATHER, AXS TV: Great to be back with you, Rachel.
MADDOW: I wanted to play that footage, that contemporaneous footage
of him arriving in the United States after being freed. I didn`t want to
show you because I didn`t want you to think that you were up your younger
RATHER: I appreciate that.
MADDOW: You feel like I`m setting you back up against Brokaw in a
RATHER: My friend Tom Brokaw did a great job that day.
Well, I have to ask, having met him a number of times, having
interviewed him a number of times, just your overall reaction to his
passing, to his having lived to be 95 and to what he came to mean to the
world before he died.
RATHER: Well, Nelson Mandela was and remains in a straight historical
line that runs from Mahatma Gandhi, to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King,
Jr., to the Mandela era, if you will, a towering figure in the last half of
the 20th century and through the first decade of the 21st century, a
towering figure because of his character and his determination, to change
the balance of power if you will in terms of racial justice.
MADDOW: When you interviewed him after his release from prison in
1990, what do you remember about -- what do you remember about that
personal encounter with him?
I mean, I`m struck by what Governor Cuomo said at the time, the
indestructibility of the human spirit. I mean, he was not a world famous
man when he went to prison.
MADDOW: He became famous in prison, spending 18 years on Robben
Island, another years in prison after that, never broken, always expected
to take up the leadership mantle after all that time and prove worthy of
it. There was something about his human resilience which made him super
RATHER: Well, resilience is a word that will always be associated
with Nelson Mandela, that and determination and also of forgiveness.
Through a colleague and friend, I was with Nelson Mandela in his home, the
night he first came back to his home, and I was struck by how calm his
demeanor was, how often he spoke of forgiveness.
If there was any sense of revenge or pay back in the man, it was not
apparent. I don`t think there was any. Now, he was the first to say, he
was an imperfect person, an imperfect leader. He engaged in violence which
he later regretted. He made his mistakes.
But he was all about forgiveness. My most vivid memory of him that
night was his absolute determination for reconciliation in his country and
a sense of forgiveness. Now, a few days later, I had a one on one
television camera interview with him and he expanded on that and talked
eloquently about the desire for South Africa to move forward in the future.
He had no illusions it was going to take a lot to reconcile the country, of
course he accomplished that before his death.
MADDOW: You covered his election for the presidency after he was
released from prison, running against the man who released him from jail.
Was it obvious to you back then that Nelson Mandela was going to win that
election? Was the future of South Africa clearly written?
RATHER: No. First of all, it was not assured that Mandela would be
elected. I thought he probably would be, but it was by no means certain.
Beyond that, there was no certainty that he would be able to reunite, to
reconcile the country, which, of course, after he won the election, he
took, made strides toward doing, but I do want to say the remarkable thing
about Nelson Mandela, he never claimed to be a saint, he wasn`t.
What made him the larger than life hero was his vulnerabilities, his
weaknesses. The fact that he had done things that he wished he had not
done. And that made him all the more human. And I think in that, a larger
hero. But let`s have no mistake that there was, there is no greater leader
than the last half of the 20th century and the first of 21st century than
MADDOW: Dan Rather, thank you very much for your time tonight, sir.
RATHER: Thank you for having me, Rachel. It`s always a pleasure.
MADDOW: Thank you.
RATHER: Thank you.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: The death of Nelson Mandela today was announced late this
afternoon East Coast time. The government of South Africa has not yet
released an official schedule of what`s going to happen now in the next few
But what we can best understand is probably this. The government`s
going to issue a formal notice about the memorial service over the course
of the next 48 hours. Then, it will be three days after that announcement
when the memorial service is actually be held. It will be held at the FNB
Soccer Stadium in Soweto, which is huge. It sets more than 90,000 people.
It was the site of Nelson Mandela`s first speech in Johannesburg after his
release from prison.
After the memorial service at that huge arena, Mr. Mandela`s body will
lie in state at the Union Buildings, which is the official seat in the
South African government in Pretoria. His body will lie there in state for
three days of public viewing. And then, his body will travel home to the
town of Qunu which is where he was born and where he will be buried at his
Now, it is expected that U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bush the elder,
Bush the younger, Bill Clinton and, of course, President Obama will all
travel to South Africa to pay respects, to the extent that their health
The scale of the memorial and burial of Nelson Mandela, honestly, is
expected to match those of Pope John Paul, and Winston Churchill, and
people of that magnitude. When Dan Rather just said that he should be
considered the greatest leader of the second half of the 20th century, that
is how he is viewed around the world. His stature in the world is
something that few people have ever known in modern history let alone in
As the details of the arrangements for the next few days emerge, we
will bring them to you right hire.
And that does it for us tonight. Thank you for being with us. We`ll
see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
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