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Rare video of 1990 U.S. speech by Mandela



After spending more than 27 years in prison, anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela attended a service at Riverside Church with interfaith leaders. Mandela thanked religious communities for their support of South Africans and the ideals of freedom.

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(Locator: New York, New York)

(Voice of Rev. Gardner C. Taylor) "I take great pleasure in presenting to you the moral leader of the world, the standard-bearer of liberty's cause, the drum major in the music of freedom. I present to you this day... the bright morning star of our hope, Mr. Nelson Mandela."

(Full screen graphics) Nelson Mandela, Riverside Church, New York City, 1990

First visit to the U.S. after being released from 27 years in prison

Excerpts from speech


Nelson Mandela: "During the long years when we were in prison you did not forget us, neither did you abandon our struggling people. You enlisted the most cherished beliefs of your religious calling. You took up the mission of promoting justice and peace and helped the people fight against the evil of apartheid. We salute you."

Nelson Mandela: "When our cause was not a popular cause in the corridors of power in Western nations, it was religious communities, college and university campuses and anti-apartheid organizations in the United States and elsewhere that stood firm on economic sanctions. I am here today to say, 'Thank you.'"

Nelson Mandela: "Today some of the household names in South Africa are of religious leaders whose commitment to their faith and engagement in the struggle for a new South Africa is without contradiction. They have shown that religion is about the celebration of liberation, the affirmation of the fullness of life, the dignity of God's children-black and white, male and female, young and old."

Nelson Mandela: "I hope that as ecumenical parties to the religious communities in South Africa you will be able to assist. My appeal to all people of goodwill today is to stand firm your message to the de Klerk government and your own legislators, if necessary, must leave no doubt as to what the oppressed in South Africa, and freedom-loving people the world over demand- it is democracy."

(Announcer voice over) That was Nelson Mandela at Riverside Church in New York City in 1990 on his first visit to the U.S. after being released from 27 years in prison.


At the "Service of Praise, Thanksgiving and Commitment," United Methodist Bishop Melvin Talbert officially represented The United Methodist Church. Before the service, interfaith religious leaders presented Nelson Mandela with a $200,000 check for humanitarian aid and the resettlement of South African refugees.

Read more about Mandela's legacy.

Posted: June 28, 2013