By Patch Staff
Nelson Mandela, a former boxer who became a symbol for peace, was remembered throughout the world on Thursday following the announcement of his death.
Mandela was 95. He spent 27 of those years in a small prison cell in South Africa, from where he grew to mythic proportions that far exceeded his thin 6-foot frame.
Southern California reacted to the death of the former South African president with actors and political leaders calling him a “hero,” a “true giant” and the “greatest teacher.”Mandela died Thursday night South Africa time. He had battled health issues in recent years, including a recurring lung infection that led to numerous hospitalizations.
Actor Morgan Freeman, who portrayed Mandela in the film "Invictus,'' hailed him as a "true giant.''
"Today the world lost one of the true giants of the past century,'' Freeman said. "Nelson Mandela was a man of incomparable honor, unconquerable strength and unyielding resolve – a saint to many, a hero to all who treasure liberty, freedom and the dignity of humankind."
Mandela spent 27 years in prison for fighting white minority rule in South Africa, becoming the world's most prominent political prisoner. He was freed in February 1990 by then-President F.W. de Klerk, and the two went on to earn the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating the end of apartheid. Mandela became president the next year.
California Senator Barbara Boxer called Mandela "a true hero for freedom," and added, "We should all carry out his vision of equality in our daily lives."
Rep. Susan Davis of San Diego said she was saddened by Mandela's passing but thankful for what he accomplished.
“The moment the news came I felt both saddened and thankful," Davis said. "While we mourn one of the world's most consequential contributors to humanitarian progress, we thank Nelson Mandela for what he taught us about sacrifice, freedom and equality."
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said that with "the passing of Nelson Mandela, the world has lost one of its greatest teachers—a model of compassion, strength, and peace."
Congressman Alan Lowenthal, who represents Long Beach and surrounding areas, called Mandela a hero but added that his "life was "larger than words."
"For a man who gave so much, who survived and triumphed over crushing adversity and in the processes helped free his nation from the shackles of apartheid, now it is his turn to rest," Lowenthal said. "The South African people have lost a great leader and the world has lost a great man."
—City News Service contributed to this report.
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