President Barack Obama on Tuesday spoke about his personal connection to the late Nelson Mandela to urge those commemorating the life of the civil rights icon to follow his example.
“Over thirty years ago, while still a student, I learned of Mandela and the struggles in this land,” Obama said at a memorial service for Mandela in Johannesburg, South Africa, according to his prepared remarks. “It stirred something in me. It woke me up to my responsibilities – to others, and to myself – and set me on an improbable journey that finds me here today.”
“And while I will always fall short of Madiba’s example, he makes me want to be better,” he continued. “He speaks to what is best inside us. After this great liberator is laid to rest; when we have returned to our cities and villages, and rejoined our daily routines, let us search then for his strength – for his largeness of spirit – somewhere inside ourselves.”
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at email@example.com.