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Local leaders remember Nelson Mandela

By Dwayne Parker, Reporter, DParker@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 05 2013 09:29:50 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 06 2013 09:56:09 AM CST

Local leaders remember Nelson Mandela

READING, Pa. -

For some local leaders in Berks County, the death of Nelson Mandela is particularly painful.

They said, in spite of all the obstacles Mandela endured, when it came to governing a country, he set a shining example.

"We all know his background," said Mayor Vaughn Spencer, D-Reading. "Solitary confinement on Robben's Island, which was no cakewalk, but yet at the same time, after getting out, he [Mandela] was willing to forgive and forget.

"I think we're going to miss his wisdom. We're going to miss his speeches. We're going to miss about the way he spoke about freedom," said Francis Acosta, president, Reading City Council.

Ed Terrell, president of the African American Art Coalition of Reading (A.C.O.R.), said he may consider putting up a mural of Mandela in the city.

Terrell, put up a mural on Elm Street, depicting the kids on the block, and immediately the graffiti on the block stopped.

He said a mural of Mandela in Reading could help curb the city's problem with violence and crime.

"When you start putting images around a community that reflect uplifting levels of consciousness, like Nelson Mandela represented, they inspires people. It gives them hope," Terrell said.

Mandela served 27 years in prison on Robben Island, but still managed to become the first black president of South Africa. Leaders said it's a legacy we can all learn from.

"He was a non-violent person," Terrell said. "So, this just goes to show, the world, that if you believe in something long enough, justice will prevail for you."

Flags are being flown at half-staff in different cities around the world.

Mandela is expected to receive a state funeral and public farewell.