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Nelson Mandela’s visit to Chicago

NelsMandelreceives Chicago bowl from Mayor Daley Civic Welcoming Reception.

Nelson Mandela receives a Chicago bowl from Mayor Daley at the Civic Welcoming Reception.

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Nelson Mandela visited Chicago for two days in July of 1993.

During his time here, then Mayor Richard M. Daley presented him with a key to the city and a Bulls hat and jacket, which he put on immediately.

He went jogging, attended multiple fundraisers and posed for dozens of photos with politicians who elbowed each other like rugby players as they jockeyed to get close to him.

He told an inquiring reporter he’d like to meet Michael Jordan.

Jordan later said he couldn’t fit the meeting in. He’d already booked a children’s charity event at Brookfield Zoo.

Mandela arrived at one of the fundraisers nearly two hours late, but not one person made a move toward the door. He got a rousing welcome when he appeared on stage with Daley and his wife, Maggie, Then Attorney General Roland W. Burris, Chicago Sun-Times columnist Vernon Jarrett, Representatives Bobby Rush and Mel Reynolds, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and a pack of aldermen.

A gospel singer sang and Chicago school children performed an African dance of welcome at the event, which raised money for Mandela ‘s African National Congress.

Mandela, who would become president of South Africa a year later, told the crowd, “I want from you a seven-figure donation and if you don’t mind, I want it right now.”

For Reginal Crenshaw, 57, an accountant from Roseland, seeing Mandela speak at the Harold Washington Library in 1993 nearly left him speechless. “I was just awed being in his presence,” said Crenshaw. “He was a giant. His legacy will live on. But it’s a sad day.”


Twitter: @mitchdudek

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