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Nelson Mandela went to jail believing in violence, and 27 years later he and his colleagues had slowly and carefully honed the skills, the incredible skills, that they needed to turn one of the most vicious governments the world has known into a democracy. And they did it in a total devotion to non-violence.
One individual can begin a movement that turns the tide of history. Martin Luther King in the civil rights movement, Mohandas Ganhi in India, Nelson Mandela in South Africa are examples of people standing up with courage and non-violence to bring about needed changes.
I think there's a mythology that if you want to change the world, you have to be sainted, like Mother Teresa or Nelson Mandela or Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Ordinary people with lives that go up and down and around in circles can still contribute to change.
Today, I see thousands of Mahatma Gandhis, Martin Luther Kings, and Nelson Mandelas marching forward and calling on us. The boys and girls have joined. I have joined in. We ask you to join, too.
I met Nelson Mandela, and I really didn't know what to say. It was years ago at a benefit. I was just in awe of this man because of what he'd done.
Now, I know you expected me to say that, well, I just kick back in the rocking chair, fished a little bit, listened to Willie Nelson tapes and watched old baseball games on the Classic Sports network. And, tell you the truth, I have done that for maybe about five total minutes.
We're trained to see the world in terms of charismatic organizations and charismatic people. That's who we look to for leadership and change, for transformation. We're awaiting the next J.F.K., the next Martin Luther King, the next Gandhi, the next Nelson Mandela.
Think about all the great leaders. Think about Obama. Think about Clinton. Think about Nelson Mandela. Think about all the people that we know who are very successful in business, in politics and religion. What are they? They tell purposeful stories. They move people to action by aiming at the heart.
The leaders who we admire who have been able to bring great change in the past - Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela - they're all inspirational religious leaders and smart tacticians. It would be nice to find the Muslim Gandhi, wouldn't it?
Dennis C. Blair
I haven't spent years, like Alyse Nelson of Vital Voices, toiling for female economic empowerment on five continents.
Nelson Mandela is awe inspiring - a person who really sacrificed for what he believed in. I feel truly humbled by him.
We'd go out in Larry's hippie van and drive out all around Dallas. He loved Chinese food, he'd go in and say. Remember me Major Nelson, me and my friends here are making this show called Dallas, have you got a table for us? It would work every time.
I have been working for Africans since I was 18, when I got involved with the Nelson Mandela concerts. I got involved with debt cancellation because Desmond Tutu demanded that the world respond to that situation.
I have learned so much from Nelson Mandela, and he has been my leader. He is a perpetual inspiration for me and millions of others around the world.
When Nelson Mandela walked free, the world sang with joy. Ever since, South Africa has stood as a beacon of hope for Africa.
Nelson Mandela will always be the face of South Africa. The traveler passing through the country will see Mandela's face almost everywhere he looks. Truly, the man is omnipresent.
Willie Nelson is the perfect person, it seems to me, to think about. Because something tells me that he operates on his own frequency.
I've been a fan of old country music, like Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline. I think I'm drawn to it because of the sense of sadness and sort of loss that a lot of good old country music has.
If Willie Nelson had been Rosa Parks, there never would have been a civil rights movement in this country, because he refuses to leave the back of the bus.
Nelson Mandela is physically separated from us, but his soul and spirit will never die. He belongs to the whole world because he is an icon of equality, freedom and love, the values we need all the time everywhere.
Before Nelson Mandela was arrested in 1962, he was an angry, relatively young man. He founded the ANC's military wing. When he was released, he surprised everyone because he was talking about reconciliation and forgiveness and not about revenge.
This may be a dream, but I'll say it anyway: I was supposed to be married last year, and I bought a gown. When I meet Nelson Mandela, I shall put on this gown and have the train of it removed and put aside, and kiss the ground that he walks on and then kiss his feet.
It's a blessing that South Africa has a man like Nelson Mandela.
I don't have a favorite song that I've written. But I do have a favorite song: 'Always on My Mind,' the Willie Nelson version. If I could sing it like he do, I would sing it every night. I like the story it tells.
B. B. King
Just look at the great Nelson Mandela. He came out of prison and saved his entire country. Some of the best people in the world have spent time in prison.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
William Arthur Ward
Image of the Moment
For they conquer who believe they can.
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