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Nelson Mandela Resource Guide: Home

Nelson Mandela and Anti-Apartheid South Africa

Nelson Mandela Portrait

Nelson Mandela Portrait Collection. 

Photographs and Prints Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.

©Chester Higgins/chesterhiggins.com

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Nelson Mandela

Mandela was an international political icon, who spent a lifetime fighting for his country and for all its people to be equal against racial oppression in South Africa. A political prisoner for 27 years, he became the human embodiment of the struggle against government-mandated discrimination of apartheid. He was released from prison in 1990, ready to lead his country towards equality and justice. Mandela reclaimed his leadership role in the once-banned African National Congress (ANC) and fought tirelessly to dismantle apartheid segregation. In 1994, Mandela won South Africa’s first free election and became its first black president. During his presidency, he worked towards rebuilding South Africa’s economy that was in crisis from apartheid,  poverty, inequalities, unequal access to social services, and infrastructure. He left office in 1999 after serving one term but continued to actively work for civil rights. Mandela passed away on December 5, 2013, at the age of 95 after suffering from a prolonged respiratory infection. South Africa observed a national mourning period of 10 days, and a state funeral was held on December 15 in Qunu, where his body is buried.