tv The Last Word MSNBC December 5, 2013 10:00pm-11:00pm PST
he will be buried at his family compound. it is expected that jimmy carter, bush the younger, bush the older, bill clinton and president obama will visit. dan rather just said that he should be considered the greatest leader of the second half of the 20th century. that is how he is viewed around the world. his stature in the world is something that few people have ever known in modern history let alone in history. as the details of the arrangements for the next few days emerge, we will bring them to you right hire. now it's time for the last word. nelson mandela told his biographer men come and go, i have come, and i will go when my
time comes. nelson mandela's time came today. >> i pledge to use all my strength and ability to live up to expectations. i am your servant. i don't come to you as a leader. >> nelson mandela has departed this earth at the age of 95. >> the founding president has departed. >> the day he was released from prison gave me a sense of what human beings can do when they're guided by their hopes and not their fears. >> na is the man the world has been waiting to see, his first public appearance in nearly three decades. >> the basic issue is the demand of one person, one vote. >> nelson mandela has become a philosophier king, setting out his vision of what he thinks the future of south africa should
be. >> prison is just not a place. >> we will likely not see the likes of nelson mandela again to make decisions by love, not by hate, to strife for a future that is worthy of his sacrifice. >> it is not the individuals that matter. i am your ser vantd. i don't come to you as a leader. >> apartness. that is what apartheid means in their language. apartness is what the south african white government was trying to achieve, keeping the black population apart from the minority white population. to do that, they would have to deny them the right to vote, ban the black population from certain jobs, prohibit marriages between white people and non-white people. prohibit sex between white people and non-white people.
and force segregation in all public areas, deny black people full use of the court system. force black people to carry identification at all times. that included their birthplace, their tax payments and a record of any and all encounters with police. and it would have to create boss, the bureau of state security which could use indefinite detention without trial. nelson mandela spent his life fighting against apartheid. he led that fight in the villages and on the streets of south africa and for 27 years managed to lead that fight from a prison cell, most of that time spent in a prison off the coast of south africa. after he conquered apartheid, he continued to fight apartness, because although apartheid law was gone, apartness remained in
south africa, black and white continued to live mostly apart. if the 20th century had an indispensable man, it was nelson mandela, and south africans knew that. which is why they stood in line for so long when they were offered a chance to vote for him as president. he was as jacob zuma put it today, the country's greatest son. >> this is the moment of our deepest sorrow. our nation has lost its greatest son. >> shortly after the news of nelson mandela's death reached the white house president obama said this. >> i am one of the countless millions to drew inspiration from nelson mandela's life. my very first political action, first thing i ever did that involved an issue or a policy or
politics was a protest against apartheid. i would study his words and his writings. the day he was released from prison gave me a sense of what human beings can do when they're guided by their hopes and not by their fears. we will not likely see the likes of nelson mandela again. so it falls to us as best we can to follow the example that he set, to make decision guided not by hate but by love, to never discounsels the difference that one person can make to strife for a future that is worthy of his sacrifice. for now, let us pause and give thanks for the fact that nelson mandela lived, a man who took history in his hands. and bent the arc of the moral universe towards justice. >> joining us now, dorian warn
and msnbc's joy reid and a columnist and contributor. i don't want you to feel limited in any way by my questions. use them if they're a useful jumping off point, but i really want to get your feelings about this man on this day in whatever way you want to express them, but you met nelson mandela. could you take us back to that day and share with us your feelings on that day. >> i did meet nelson mandela, it was in 1994. it was an official visit to washington that he made. and we invited him to lunch at the washington post and he accepted. so i was the foreign editor then, and it's kind of a newsmaker lunch we make in the washington post company boardroom, but we had to get a special big room with lots of tables because ever top editor,
any editor that had any claim to be in that room was going to be there. in fact, today, several of us were e-mailing, because we were trying to pin down exactly, what was that date and refresh our recollections. and everyone had this vivid recollection of the man. and it was something more than, than dazzling charisma. it was more than that smile of his that was like sunshine when he trained it on you. but there was, you know, this is what i wrote about him in a column i wrote, there was steel in this man. and that's what i hope everyone remembers, that he was, he was so generous and inclusive when he came to power in south africa, but he got to that point after decades of implaquable opposition to a system he knew was evil that he did bring down by the force not only of his compassion but the force of his
will. he was an extraordinary, extraordinary person. and they called him the indispensable man. i think he certainly was. it's a sad day, but we should celebrate, just a remarkable life. >> joy rooid, what do you want to make sure that your children know about nelson mandela? >> you know, i think with somebody like mandela, it's tempting to just remember the postcard mandela, the person who brought people together after he was freed from captivity, but you have to remember the context in which he lived. i mean, you had in south africa sort of the inverse of what you had in the american civil rights movement. you had a native african population that was seven times larger than the ruling class that essentially turned them and enslaved them in their own country. they were need not even a second, a third class citizen, a non-person within a land that they called their anses tral home.
and the national african congress and nelson mandela tried to fight this oppression in various ways. sometimes through violent struggle. they would try non-violence. they were met with incredible violence. it was intense and incredible. so what mandela forgave is something that is almost indescribable for many. this is what came after the generation of vietnam. then you had the fight against vietnam. but for a lot of people, particularly in the 1980s, it was this. it was the fight against apartheid in south africa that galvanized a lot of african-americans. >> i asked the last word staff today for a show of hands of how many personally remember apartheid and very few hands went up. i was at your class at columbia,
and i can tell with your students, they don't remember apartheid. they're all too young to remember apartheid. what do columbia students and students everywhere need to know about it? >> they need to know a few things. in some ways apartheid in south africa and in the united states are the major places that ended up being democracies in the world we're actually the most similar countries when you think about it which is why i think for black americans in this country, we have their living memory of apartheid. i came of age in the '80s and '90s, and i remember conversations with friends and especially in college, we had just moved the divestment movement. >> there was a big movement for colleges with endowments that were invested in various companies to divest any stocks that were doing business in south africa. that went on for years. >> as joy said, this was the student movement of the 1980s.
this it was the defining student movement of the 1980s. they won. they successfully got their colleges to divest their investments in any business that was doing business with south africa. but let's also give props to the congressional black caucus. from the early '70, the cbc was offering legislation to apply economic sanctions against south africa. it wasn't successful until the mid '80s, but they never relented, even with a veto from president reagan against economic sanctions. the cbc kept on and brought the congressional colleagues with them. >> to the point where they overrode a reagan veto, which took republican votes in the senate to do so. >> that's right. so i think we, this is a moment as eugene said that we are sad, but we should also honor the man, and we should honor our own role and the small part we played as americans and
especially black americans and black political leaders. i think of jesse jackson and dinkins and all those who led this fight when this was unpopular, when the world was not rising up to say that this is unjust. there are some freedom fighters everywhere but especially here in the united states. >> i was going to say, congressman dellems was an inch tumtsal figure in this. we should not forget how much resistance there was from the reagan administration which considered the anc a terrorist group, from margaret thatcher considered the anc a terrorist group and nelson mandela a terrorist. and this is the '80s. there was a lot of resistance to the idea of the government should fall, much less that this die vestment should take place at all. >> this was in the context of the cold war. and one of the most insidious
things that the apartheid south african government did was they couched their oppression in terms of the communist struggle, that essentially the anc was riddled through with communists and pro-cubans. when nelson mandela was freed and made this tour. when he got to miami, he was actually rejected by the local government in miami, two mayors of miami and miami dade would not receive mandela because he was perceived as being pro-castro. so there was this whole sort of cold war fight that was tied up in the south african struggle. and it was part of the reason that the reagan administration opposed the idea of sanctions and divestment from south africa. >> please stay with us. coming up, we will look at
the presidency of nelson mandela and how he managed to command the world's attention while in prison. with the spark cash card from capital one, i get 2% cash back on every purchase, every day. i break my back around here. finally someone's recognizing me with unlimited rewards! meetings start at 11, cindy. [ male announcer ] get the spark business card ar from capital one. prison. on every purchase, every day. what's in your wallet? i need your timesheets, larry!
nelson mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison on robbanrobins island. inside was a copy of the complete works of shakespeare. on december 16, 1977, nelson mandela chose this passage from julius caesar. cowards die many times before their deaths. the valiant never taste of death but once. nelson mandela later said the passage was one he repeated when he had to say good-bye to someone. [ male announcer ] meet felix.
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this is one of the most important moments in the life of our country. i stand before you filled with pride and joy, pride in the ordinary, humble people of this country. you have shown such a calm, patient determination to reclaim this country as your own. and joy that you can loudly proclaim from the rooftops, free at last. [ applause ] >> that was nelson mandela giving his presidential victory speech on may 2, 1994. joining me now, chris bishop who knew man della personally and made documentaries.
and a founding director at the institute for race and justice. chris bishop, there's a line in the new york times about nelson mandela from a quote from one of his prison cellblock mates who says the first thing to remember about mandela is that he came from a royal family. that always gave him a strength. tell us about upbringing and how that affected his bearing as he moved through his difficult life. >> well, certainly, he came from a royal lineage in his home area in the eastern cape of south africa. he was brought up to be a chief. his father was a chief. he was, had a very high upbringing one might say. it was only when he became a young man that it was decided he
was going to marry somebody he didn't want to marry to. he left and went to johannesburg where he became a security guard among other things at a mine, but he always had that sort of pa trish yan thing about him. he was an incredible man. and for that reason he could get away with things that other people or politicians, all these memories coming up tonight. i remember one time we were in one of the many meetings for the african union, and the night that he announced that the former dictator of zaire who had a poor human rights record as you may know had died. he said it's always sad to see an old comrade passing even one who's caused so many people so many problems, and he caught himself with a little laugh at the end. and if a leader had said that about the death of another leader he would have been castigated.
but that night he smiled and carried it off. we understand what he really means. >> in 1952, he actually gave a talk at a dinner where he predicted in 1952 that he, nelson mandela, would be the first elected president of a free and democratic south africa, and that actually came to happen. how would you judge his handling the presidency as that first democratically elected president in south african history? >> i'm glad you said that because he was the first democratically elected president, not the first black president. he was that because everybody had the right to vote, including africa africans. i was born in 1952, so i have no memory of this speech in 1952, but i do remember as a student at stanford be being involved in
the divestment movement, trying to make sure that southern africa would divest from the system and apartheid would be ended. that was continued when i went to law school in the '70s and continued into practice in the '80s when we had thousands of people protest during the reagan years. and it was people of every stripe, and his legacy is something that will have to last forever and i hope that we won't just simply honor him when his birthday comes up, but we should think about a global, a global remembrance of this day, of nelson mandela's birth, not his death but his birth, because he represents, i think, an outstanding person who gave a lot of himself, 27 years in jail, always subject to the apartheid laws, but a man who came out with no bitterness, no
fear, no anger, no hostility, but someone who wanted to make south africa open for all people, including whites and blacks and women and men. and i think that should be part of his legacy. >> professor ogletree, like you he was a lawyer, he was one of the first black practitioners in south africa, and he had a great legal challenge in taking over the presidentsy. first of all, laws had to be changed in order to even allow that kind of vote to occur. and then theres with a lot to consider by way of changing south african law when he became president. he went about that, it seems, in a careful and prudent way. and was, was very mindful, it seems, of trying to cokeep the white minority actively participating in that government. >> i think about his legal career not so much when he was president of south africa but
when he was sentenced to 27 years in prison, and he was then talking about the fact that he, as a lawyer, was being judged by a white judge, a white bailiffs, everybody white in the court except him, the defendant, and he gave, i think, a mift speech about he's willing to die if necessary to promote these issues. he did a great job of bringing everybody together. a lot of south african, black south africans have felt that you know what? we've been victims of apartheid. we've had to have all these cards to carry around, we've been treated with disrespect. and nelson mandela said it has to stop. it has to stop now. and i'm telling everybody that south africa is one nation of all people, not a black nation and a white nation. it's one nation for all. and he showed that in his love for the teams that played, all
white males playing rugby, and he became a rugby fan. he was a genuine person who loved the life of all south africa, loved his country, loved all of his people and believed that we could not be separate and be strong. he believed in the idea that separate and equal did not work in south africa. it would not work anywhere else. we had to be equal and not separate in order for us to work. and i think when we look back he made a big difference, and he will continue to make a difference when we realize what he did as a lawyer, as a politician, as a father, a grandfather, and really as a father of a nation. >> chris bishop, nelson mandela told one of his biographers that he doesn't think he's ever fully told the story about just how close south africa came to chaos and civil war on multiple fronts in that transition from apartheid all the way through to a democratically elected
president. there was an assassination of another black leader at that time where things were getting very tense and close to coming apart. can you imagine any one else being that first democratically elected president of south africa and holding the country together? >> you have to understand where this country came from, just before the elections there was an uprising in the northwest of the country, in botswana, there was shooting. some members of the army were almost ready to stage a coup. there was terrible violence. and as you mentioned there quite right, when chris harney, one of the most loved leaders of the movement, a lot of people wanted to take to the streets long
before the elections. nelson mandela went on television that night, the sitting president didn't do anything. and said no, stay home, work together, look forward, look for the best, and do not commit violence. when there was hectic violence between political factions, mandela spoke to them at the risk of his own life. he spoke to thousands and thousands of activist and said take your knives and your machetes and throw them into the sea, he simmered down. i think a lot of people now 20 years later forget how serious it was. but he simmered down what could have been an absolute bloodbath in this country, and thank heavens, it is a relatively peaceful country now. and people are getting along. i'm not sure many people on this earth, let alone political
leaders who could have pulled that off. >> thank you for joining us tonight. >> my pleasure. coming up, a look at nelson mandela's time in prison. explorer card. i've saved $75 in checked bag fees. [ delavane ] priority boarding is really important to us. you can just get on the plane and relax. [ julian ] having a card that doesn't charge you foreign transaction fees saves me a ton of money. [ delavane ] we can go to any country and spend money the way we would in the u.s. when i spend money on this card, i can see brazil in my future. [ anthony ] i use the explorer card to earn miles in order to go visit my family, which means a lot to me. ♪ with swiffer bissell steamboost... [ steam hisses ] guys! [ female announcer ] ...it can. introducing swiffer steamboost powered by bissell. it gets the dirt that mops can leave behind with steam-activated cleaning pads that break down dirt and lock it away. how did you get this floor so clean? ♪
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>> that was nelson mandela in 1961. two years later he was in prison in south africa where he remained for 27 years before his sentencing and again on the day he was released from prison nelson mandela made a statement that president obama quoted tonight. >> i have fought against white domination. and i have fought against black domination. i have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together. >> in harmony and, and with equal opportunities. it is which i hope to live for and to achieve. but give me peace.
it is an ideal for which i am prepared to die. >> joining our discussion now, michael eric dyson, professor of sociology. and by phone, ms. gault. take us back to that time when nelson mandela was in prison. he was unknown to the world when he went into prison but he gained his worldwide fame there. how did that happen? >> caller: i think that his movement never stopped putting him out there, putting the beliefs out there. and when i went in 1995, i couldn't get into the prison, but i went and looked over to
where he was. i went to a little township, you know, the blacks were separated and segregated many miles from the main town, and i went to one of them, and i saw these kids, you know, singing in a circle, and i walked up to them, and i said what are you singing? and they said oh, we're singing for nelson mandela to be released, and they named all the other political prisoners. so somehow in south africa, the black majority and those who were their comrades, black and white, kept his name alive so that the young people were still singing songs of freedom and wanting them to be released. >> michael eric dyson, just generally your reflections on the life and time of nelson mandela. >> what an iconic man. the reality is, is that nelson
mandela proved that a revolutionary zeal didn't have to event wait in the violence that he and the anc were accused. what he did was transform the bitterness of african people who were black against a minority of people who are imposing their will and prove that we could wri wrest our country from the jaws of those who would tear it apart. and he loved it back into a position of moral authority. he forgave white south africans into a better future. and by that he proved that the pen is mightier than the sword so o to speak. but he also proved that a life of extraordinary sacrifice would, in the long run, defeat the forces that had been running free while he was in jail.
isn't it interesting? he proved by his own noble sacrifice that the people really imprisoned were those who believed in apartheid and those who believed in the artificial separation of the races. so when he emerged he was clear in conscience and clear in voice to articulate a vision that could really go beyond and transcend bitter recrimination and revenge inton ethic of transformation. and he prove thad that wd that basis of real peace in south africa. >> he said three didn't make moral choices necessarily about what tactics to use, about whether to use violence or not. he was interested in the strak that would work. and he was very impatient with some people who advocated violence, specifically on the grounds that it would not work.
>> caller: well, you know, at a certain point he realized that the government was not listening. and, you know, although there were many in the world who condemned violence, archbishop desmond tutu talked about the just war. and that is what mandela and his comrades launched. it was a just war. and i have to say that, you know, even as mandela was in prison and so many people, you know, were unable to see him, there was a movement that supported his goal of a free south africa that was launched around the world. and so it was the world's activism, including those in the united states and elsewhere who carried mandela's message even though he was in prison and worked hard including the sanctions and other things that
put pressure on the south african minority regime to listen to him, to listen to what he had to say. and so those movements around the world, carrying his message enabled him ultimately, himself, to begin negotiations with the white minority regime, even when he was in prison to end apartheid. he was meeting with the leaders of the white minority regime, organizing ways of freedom for his people. and when they asked him to forgive violence in order for himself to be and his colleagues and comrades to be released from prison, he said no. this is unconditional. and that was where the moral authority of him and his position came into being and was ultimately victorious. >> i want to go back to chris bishop in johannesburg south africa, and we have a delay in
our satellite communication, but we'll be patient with it. people around the world are marveling at nelson mandela's dignity and grace under this tremendous pressure over decades in south africa including during his imprisonment. you've studied the man for many years. to what do you attribute the source of his ability to carry himself in that way and to not indulge in recriminations when he had that opportunity? >> i think that's the sort of man he was. he was a very tall, imposing man who was a dignified man. i saw him get angry quite a few times. he was a very tough man. but there was no way that you could ever really say, people knew him for years. he didn't like the trappings of power.
he didn't like the glitter that went with office. many people still believe he didn't want to be president even. and yet he carried the office with such dignity. but on the other hand i've seen him be unhappy with journalists and tongue lash them. he had this spirit, he always had time for children. he would talk to older people. he would, he always used to come into press conferences and say hello, young people, even though some of us were in our 40s and 50s then. that's just the sort of person he was. and i think he had very little bitterness in his heart. and he had that great belief that there was good in everyone, it doesn't matter what evil they've done, there is some form of good and reconciliation in them. i think as a quality, it's a quality we could all do with.
>> thank you all very much for your invaluable insights tonight. thank you. >> thank you. coming up, what nelson mandela told brian williams nearly 20 years ago, right after his election as president of south africa. [ male announcer ] it's simple physics... a body at rest tends to stay at rest... while a body in motion tends to stay in motion. staying active can actually ease arthritis symptoms. but if you have arthritis, staying active can be difficult.
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part of this initiative, the kind fund which provides jobs in ma louy has now raised 5 million $851,920. that was after your contributions throwed in today in the amount of $76,404 after i talked about the kind fund on last night's show and asked to you hip. 0 hundreds of thousands of children are sitting at desks for the first time in their lives thanks to you. the kind fund is now providing desks to girls. call 1-800-4unicef. as you have seen in my previous reports, whether we deliver desks to the schools, the kids always thank us in song.
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declerk. >> my relations with mr. declerk are very good. he is one of those south africans i hold in high regard. we have had differences. we have said cruel things against each other. but at the end of the day, we're able to shake hands and to think in the interests of south africa, and he has had an experience which i have not had. and if my organization comes out with a majority in this elections, i will have to depend very much on his support, his experience. >> what happens when nelson mandela has to use force against elements of south africa's black community? are you willing and able to take on the political pressures that will take place?
>> i don't expect that the government has succeeding governments would rely on a solution on force. we depend on the people. we depend on persuasion, and i don't visualize any period when we'll have to use force. >> let's talk about this word expectation. it has become almost an expression, something you hear throughout your country, and that is that the blacks expect a new car and a new home the day aft election, and the whites expect to lose everything they have, the status quo. how do you control the game of expectations on both sides? >> the fear and the concern by the whites and the minority, is genuine, and it is our task to
address them, but you must understand that in order to deliver the goods in this regard, it cannot be done overnight. it is going to take a year, two years, even as much as five years. the important thing is that after the results have been announced the process of modernizing the country and its resources to address the problems will start. >> a final thought on nelson mandela's legacy when we come back. have germy surfaces. but after one day's use, dishcloths can redeposit millions of germs. so ditch your dishcloth and switch to a fresh sheet of bounty duratowel. look! a fresh sheet of bounty duratowel leaves this surface cleaner than a germy dishcloth, as this black light reveals. it's durable, cloth-like and it's 3 times cleaner. so ditch your dishcloth and switch to bounty duratowel.
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i've saved $75 in checked bag fees. [ delavane ] priority boarding is really important to us. you can just get on the plane and relax. [ julian ] having a card that doesn't charge you foreign transaction fees saves me a ton of money. [ delavane ] we can go to any country and spend money the way we would in the u.s. when i spend money on this card, i can see brazil in my future. [ anthony ] i use the explorer card to earn miles in order to go visit my family, which means a lot to me. ♪ let us remind ourselves that our work is far from complete. where there is poverty and sickness, including aids, where human beings are being oppressed, there is more work to be done. our work is for freedom for all. after nearly 90 years of life,
it is time for new hands to lift the burdens. it is in your hands now. >> that was nelson mandela's 90th birthday. we're back. more on your final thoughts on nelson mandela? >> it's not lost on me, we saw strikes of fast food workers in over 100 cities. and nelson mandela was a statesman and a lot of things, but he was also an organizer. he was sentenced to a five-year jail sentence in 1961 for organizing a three-day national strike of workers. this is before he got the life sentence. and i just want to remind viewers that it took thousands if not millions of ordinary people to do extraordinary things in south africa to lead to freedom, so we should absolutely honor nelson mandela and never forget his legacy but
also recognize the names of folks that we'll never know who he helped to organize to stand up to lead to freedom and liberation in south africa. >> nelson mandela always said it looks impossible until it is done. joy reid, your thoughts? >> he changed the culture, my cultural orientation was a man from the congo. but he also changed the culture from popstars to sports celebrities. you had the whole world ice late south africa and agree to the moral repugnance of racism in the way you never saw before. he and his movement in the anc broke the binary code. >> imagine if there hadn't been
nelson mandela. it's just a strange counter factual to think of. but south africa would be a different country. i think it would be a different world. he was such, more than an icon, such a giant of the 20th century, that i think the 21st century would simply not be the same without nelson mandela. >> i just want to mention something about the way he used all of the different layers of his experience, beginning with growing up in a little village on a dirt floor. he used his law school experience, his educated man experience. and there's a wonderful quote in his auto biography where he talks about consensus building. and he used his experience watching the tribal council and chiefs. he said the chief works like a shepherd whereupon the others follow not realizing that all along they are being directed
from behind. eugene robinson, joy reid, thank you for joining us. chris matthews is up next. tonight we bring to you my interview with president obama. i have covered two great world events in my career. one was the fall of the berlin wall in 1989. the other was the first democratic election in south africa five years later. i was there when the country's black majority voted by the millions, waiting in lines that stretched from one horizon to the other. i saw first hand the devotion to democracy. it was the great legacy of the man who died today. president obama paid tribute to nelson mandela today.