Mourning Mandela, praising his legacy

Nelson Mandela's death will be mourned from Cape Town to Champaign-Urbana. Six area admirers shared their memories with The News-Gazette:

RONALD BAILEY

Head of the Department of African American Studies at the University of Illinois

"Nelson Mandela was one of the tallest trees in the forest in the struggle for African liberation, and he paid a high price. He was imprisoned on Robben Island for 27 years because of his involvement with the African National Congress and its armed struggle against the system of racial segregation and exploitation called apartheid. And he came out of prison with his deep commitment to a free and liberated South Africa intact, becoming its first black president. He was and will continue to be an inspiration to freedom fighters the world over, and his contributions and memory will be forever cherished."

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JAN BROOKS

UI research associate who takes students to South Africa every winter after they have read about Mandela

"He was just the most amazing human being. He pulled his country out of turmoil and managed to pull it all together again. Reconciliation was a very import to pull South Africa together, and the best thing at the time. ... Of course, it didn't solve all the problems facing the country."

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WILLIE SUMMERVILLE

Choir director and outreach coordinator for the African-American Studies Program at the UI

"A great man is gone. He was a person of color who refused to let hate dominate his personality. He helped the underserved; he was a champion of people who were not as literate as he, not as intelligent as he, not as well-off as he. He was really something about getting along with people."

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CLARENCE A. SHELLEY

Retired UI dean who recruited black students

"His passing makes me wonder about what he did, all he accomplished, and how much of that is still active in our lives. He's one of the great heroes of any century. One has to wonder what the world would be if he had not lived. We are reminded of all he did and all he suffered."

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ERIKA HAROLD

Former Miss America and current Congressional candidate

"It's extremely sad that he has passed, but a great opportunity to reflect upon a strong legacy of leadership and sacrifice. His life and legacy inspired me to want to make a difference."

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TERESA ANN BARNES

UI faculty member who lived in South Africa 17 years

"Nelson Mandela was the greatest of men. In South Africa, people are weeping. He was a great man of principle and a fighter for justice."

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