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Indiana politicians praise Mandela

Updated: January 7, 2014 6:39AM

Politicians across Indiana and in the region reflected on the death of former South African President Nelson Mandela and his influence on the world of politics.

Mandela died Thursday at the age of 95.

U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, a Democrat representing the 1st District in Northwest Indiana, recalled Mandela’s words that, “to deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.”

“This remarkable statesman leaves the world a legacy of compassion, love and optimism for all mankind,” Visclosky said.On Twitter, U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., posted, “Mandela’s tireless efforts to bring freedom & equality to all in his home country & the world will continue to inspire us.”

U.S. Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., also posted to Twitter, “As a promoter of freedom and a voice for the victims of injustice, Nelson Mandela’s contributions to the world will keep his memory alive.”

U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, a Republican representing the 2nd District, said Mandela dedicated his life to the courageous pursuit of peace and justice for all. She called his death tragic but said his legacy will inspire others to keep changing the world for the better.

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said Mandela served as a symbol of freedom and courage for muliple generations.

“If you think of his imprisonment,” Freeman-Wilson said, “and how he cam out as a victor, you can’t help but admire him and be inspired by him.”

“He always treated others the way he wanted to be treated.” she added, “I find that personally to be a great example.”

Former Gary Mayor Richard Hatcher said he feels a deep sadness at the loss of a great man. While serving with TransAfrica, Hatcher worked to free Mandela from prison, and also helped to write a new constitution after the South African leader was elected president.

Hatcher said Mandela’s courage to stand against tyranny and his compassion to forgive those who stood against him will be his greatest legacy.

“He became president, and South Africa has been one of the most peaceful countries in the world, not just in Africa,” Hatcher said. “They have built an integrated economy, working together for the good of the country.”

Hatcher said he hopes those lessons will not be lost on politicians who may attack the first U.S. African-American president simply because of his race. He said such behavior by a few elected officials insults many Americans, black and white, who believe in fairness and justice.

“Out of the truly sad death of Nelson Mandela,” he said, “one of the things that comes out of this, maybe people will have some second thoughts about their actions.”

AP contributed
to this report

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