December 5, 2013

Statement from Mayor Rahm Emanuel on the Passing of Nelson Mandela

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

“The thoughts and prayers of the people of Chicago join those of billions of people around the world who mourn the passing of Nelson Mandela and celebrate his life and legacy. The world is sadder now because he has died; but we are comforted knowing that the world is better because he lived. Twenty years after he visited Chicago, his message of peace and hope continues to resonate with the people of this city, as it does for all people of goodwill, and that message will live on.  In the coming days, from the neighborhoods of Chicago to the streets of Pretoria, from lands that are still healing from the scourge of racial and religious strife to those still struggling to end it, the name Mandela will be on the lips of all those who love and work for peace.

My wife Amy and I arrived in South Africa on our honeymoon in 1994 just a few months after Nelson Mandela took the oath and became President of what he called "a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world."  I will never forget the sense of possibility and promise that he sparked in the people of South Africa, and as Amy and I were starting a new life together, we felt it was fitting to be in a country as it began a new life of its own.

People of different colors and creeds, separated by culture and country, were united by a shared admiration for Nelson Mandela.  They placed their hopes in him because they saw themselves in him. By mastering unjust imprisonment, he helped free a people; by reaching out across divisions he brought a nation together and set an example for all of us to follow.  Though his personal journey may be over, Nelson Mandela's long walk to freedom will journey on in places both far away and near at home, in the work of people around the world who continue to struggle against oppression and division.  It is with heavy hearts that we say goodbye to this great peacemaker who now rests in peace, and say thank you for a life well lived.”