The Rev. Jesse Jackson said former South African President Nelson Mandela beat apartheid by choosing reconciliation over revenge.
Mandela, 95, died Thursday after a lengthy battle with a recurring lung infection. He was imprisoned for 28 years for plotting to overthrow South Africa’s apartheid government, and was elected president in 1994.
In an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Jackson said Mandela was successful in his fight against apartheid because he wasn’t motivated by revenge.
“Well, he was shaped by persecution and internal will and dignity and … he did not internalize the system. And to that extent, he was gracious because of victory. He won the battle over skin color apartheid and political right to vote and legal apartheid and international world opinion after he had a choice at that point to choose revenge or reconciliation. He chose reconciliation as a victor over that system,” Jackson said.
“Because at that moment … if he had chosen revenge, then you would have had a bloodshed. He chose to go forth by a kind of hope and not by fear. Those are choices the man made,” he added.
Mandela was a stellar example of the winner in a fight for freedom rejecting revenge. Now, try to communicate the value of that ethic to American neo-Confederates, the losers in our civil war to preserve the union and end slavery – who are still trying to exact revenge for that loss.