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The African American community mourns the passing of Nelson Mandela

Nayaba Arinde | , Herb Boyd | , Mahogany Linebarger | , Amity Paye | 12/5/2013, 6:25 p.m.
D World awaits, news of Mandela

Under apartheid, Mandela served 27 years in prison and was released in 1990 after turning down government propositions promising his release if he renounced violence. He continued his work and advocacy once being released from jail. He became the first Black president of South Africa in 1994 and served until 1999.

"While some inside and outside of South Africa questioned decisions made by the Mandela government and its inability to tackle the gross inequities created and sustained under apartheid, his government oversaw the creation of important institutions that established models for other states in Africa and beyond," said Judith Byfield, a professor of history at Cornell University focusing on the decolonization of Africa.

In his 95 years of life, Mandela married three times and had six children. During his struggle with his illnesses, daughter Makaziwe Mandela told the Associated Press, “I'm sure now, in his twilight years, that he looks back and says, `You know, I could have done that differently,'" Makaziwe said. "He has regrets in life, mostly about his family. He was not there as a father. He tried the best way that he could when he came out of jail. But you understand that my father came out of jail and was swallowed up even before he became president. He never really had the time to truly be a father.”

In July, Mandela's grandson Ndaba Mandela also shared a little of what the family was feeling. He said hat while the family appreciates all the tireless work the former activist-turned-president has done in his close to a century of living, they, like so many others, did not really want to think about him making his transition.

"To Graça Machel and his family, Michelle and I extend our deepest sympathy and gratitude for sharing this extraordinary man with us. His life’s work meant long days away from those who loved him the most. And I only hope that the time spent with him these last few weeks brought peace and comfort to his family," said Obama.

The people of South Africa along with admirers from around the world will feel the loss of this leader. Through his relentless work to spread peace and equality, Mandela touched the lives of many.

Civil Rights Leaders in New York have called a candle light vigil "in honor of civil rights icon Nelson Mandela outside the South African Consulate in Manhattan" for Thursday, Dec. 5 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

"As word spreads about the death of one of the most profound civil rights leaders in the world, here in NY local social justice and civil rights activist scurry to pull together a befitting candle light vigil in his honor," reads their statement.