Remembering Nelson Mandela on His Centennial

Daniel Hautzinger
Nelson Mandela

One hundred years ago, on July 18, 1918, one of the most revered leaders of the twentieth century was born. Few other people command the same devotion and respect as Nelson Mandela, who led South Africa's transition to democracy after 27 years as a political prisoner and a lifetime of leading the opposition to apartheid. While jailed, he opened up negotiations with the white government that eventually, after several years, led to an agreement to end apartheid and hold free, non-racial elections that led to the election of Mandela as South Africa's first black president, in 1994. For his role in the negotiations, he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, which he shared with his not-quite-trusted counterpart and predecessor, F.W. de Klerk. After a single term as president, during which he sought to establish a mutliracial nation and alleviate bitterness and rancor, he stepped down, allowing for a peaceful, democratic transition of power. He died at the age of 95, in 2013.

Remember and honor Mandela on his centennial with a selection of videos, from an in-depth Frontline portrait to PBS NewsHour reports and panels in memory of him.


In 1999, the year Mandela stepped down from the presidency, Frontline released a two-hour biographical portrait of him, The Long Walk of Nelson Mandela.


In this NewsHour segment, former President Barack Obama honors Mandela in a speech upon the South African icon's death. Obama is currently on a trip to Africa and made a speech yesterday in South Africa to mark Mandela's centennial.


Lydia Polgreen, the Johannesburg bureau chief for The New York Times at the time of Mandela's death, reports on the mood of the country for NewsHour the day Mandela died.


NewsHour panel with Donald Gips, former U.S. ambassador to South Africa, John Stremlau of the Carter Center, Gay McDougall, Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa, and Douglas Foster, author of After Mandela: The Struggle for Freedom in Post-Apartheid South Africa, discusses the human rights leader.


Some hundred world leaders gathered in South Africa to pay respects to Mandela after his death, including Obama and former Cuban president Raúl Castro (the leaders of the two frosty countries famously shook hands). NewsHour reports.


Finally, a look back at Mandela from the perspective of the United States and Chicago on Chicago Tonight, on the occasion of a visit to Chicago in 1993, the year before he became the first democratically elected President of South Africa.

Nelson Mandela
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