Remembering Nelson Mandela's Bay Area Visit - NBC Southern California

Remembering Nelson Mandela's Bay Area Visit



    Bay Area Reflects on Passing of Nelson Mandela

    NBC Bay Area's Cheryl Hurd and Jean Elle show the impact Nelson Mandela had on the Bay Area. (Published Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013)

    As word spread of the death of South Africa's Nelson Mandela, many in the Bay Area found themselves remembering his visit to Oakland in 1990.

    The anti-apartheid leader South Africa's first black president and one of the world's most beloved statesmen.

    In February 1990 Mandela walked out of South Africa's Victor Verster prison near Cape Town after 27 years in captivity.

    ARCHIVE VIDEO: Nelson Mandela Speaks at Oakland Coliseum in 1990

    That summer Mandela came to the United States for an eight-city tour. 

    His final stop was the Oakland Coliseum where 58,000 people packed the stadium to hear the iconic leader speak.

    Rep. Barbara Lee was in the audience and remembers the world leader fondly. She said we must remember him for his greatness, "he used his life not for himself, but for the good of his country and the good of the world, and his spirit will live on."

    MORE: Bay Area Reaction to Mandela's Passing

    “During Mr. Mandela’s trip to the United States in 1990, it was a great honor to be a member of the host committee that welcomed him to my district of Oakland, California," Lee said Thursday.

    At the time he said he had to come here because cities like Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco were among the early adopters of ordinances calling for divestment of stocks in American companies doing business in South Africa. He also noted that area longshoremen refused to unload South African goods.

    According to the New York Times, Mandela told the crowd that his country was at a "crucial historical juncture" and vowed not to turn back.

     ''Despite my 71 years, at the end of this visit I feel like a young man of 35. I feel like an old battery that has been recharged. And if I feel so young, it is the people of the United States of America that are responsible for this," he said in Oakland.

    MORE: Nelson Mandela Dies, the World Reacts

    At the time, Mandela was 71 years old and the deputy president of the African National Congress.

    He was greeted on his U.S. tour that included stops in New York, Boston, Washington, Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles and the Bay Area with rock star status.

    Local television stations, including this one, showed live video of his arrival at the airport and his speech. Newspapers across the country also issued souvenir issues.

    On July 15, the House of Representatives passed a resolution honoring Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the esteemed former President of South Africa, on the occasion of his 90th birthday. Rep. Barbara Lee spoke in support in the clip below: