MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — He's known for having a voice heard round the world, but 13 years ago, Nelson Mandela was talking to Minnesotans.
Mandela came to meet with the NAACP and local business leaders in November 2000. He said to the crowd, "If you want to make progress, you must respect the integrity of those you do not agree with."
Judge La June Lange is one of the Minnesotans he was speaking to -- and with.
"His demeanor was statesmen-like, but friendly," she said. "He wasn't one of these imperious look at me kind of people. He was a natural observant person who wanted to genuinely look you in the eye, shake your hand, concentrate only on you at the time."
Lange now represents the country of South Africa in Minnesota as part of the consulates office. She met Mandela twice and spent a lot of time studying his ways.
"He's the only person in contemporary history who has overcome oppression and included the oppressors in the government," she said. "It's just a phenomenal thing he did in South Africa."
And in Minnesota, she says his teachings spawned local refugee and human rights groups.
"Those kinds of systems to peacefully settle long-term grievances have touched Minnesota and have touched the world," she said, describing him as "reconciling, a man of peace."
His life is marked by forgiveness with a message she hopes won't be forgotten.
A Twin Cities memorial service open to anyone will be taking place soon at the Cathedral of St. Paul. We should have a date and time by Friday night.
McCollum, Klobuchar React To Mandela's Death
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Minnesota U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum says the world "has lost an icon for justice and a true freedom fighter" with the death of Nelson Mandela.
McCollum issued a statement Thursday on the death of Mandela. South Africa's first black president died at age 95.
McCollum says Mandela inspired "not only Africans, but a global generation committed to abolishing apartheid."
The Democratic congresswoman extended her condolences to the people of South Africa for their loss, which she calls "truly a loss for the human race."
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar called Nelson Mandela's life "a powerful affirmation of the human spirit."
The Minnesota Democrat issued a statement Thursday on the death of Mandela, saying "We lost a great man today."
Klobuchar says with his courage and compassion, Mandela not only changed South Africa, "he transformed the world."
She urged people as they mourn his loss and reflect on his legacy to rededicate themselves to "the pursuit of justice, equality and peace."
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