Nelson Mandela

Champion of Freedom

As a boy in South Africa, Nelson Mandela was often not sure of himself. He cared little for the outside world and rarely challenged authority. But when he grew up, he devoted his life to the ideal of “a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony with equal opportunities.” He fought to end apartheid—a system that segregated blacks and whites in a country where blacks could not vote, own land, or move freely from one place to another. After attempting to overthrow the government Mandela spent 27 years in prison. Once freed, he was elected president of South Africa becoming a powerful symbol of peace and unity.

Related blog entries

  • January 7, 2022

    “He loved. He cried. He was forgiven. He forgave.” That is how Archbishop Desmond Tutu said he would like to be remembered, as shown in a clip on PBS NewsHour on December 26, 2021.

  • July 18, 2018

    Today marks the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth. On a trip to Oslo I visited the Nobel Peace Center, a museum that celebrates the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, among them Mandela,...

  • January 16, 2014

    Washington writer Deborah Kalb publishes a website with daily historical factoids as well as interviews with authors. Many thanks to Deborah for posting an interview with me on January 15. She...

  • December 6, 2013

    On February 11, 1990, Nelson Mandela walked out of prison—a free man after twenty-seven years. Tall and thin, he carried his head high as he always had. But something was different. His good...

  • August 9, 2012

    On August 8, 2012, Hillary Clinton speaks to students and staff at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa. In a heartfelt speech, filled with powerful images and tender recollections,...

  • May 24, 2012

    From the May issue of School Library Journal:
    Gr 8 Up–Mandela’s life and career have captured the imagination of millions, and this biography does nothing to detract from his heroic...