Statement by Ambassador Caroline Kennedy on the Death of Nelson Mandela

In his autobiography, Nelson Mandela wrote, “I will continue fighting for freedom until the end of my days.” Those days sadly have come to an end, but Mandela’s legacy continues to inspire us to guard the torch of freedom for generations to come.

From his cramped cell on Robben Island, Mandela emerged as an icon for hope and change. His unbending resolve to demand equality broke South Africa from the chains of apartheid and harkened a cry for freedom that continues to echo across the planet.

Just four months after his release from prison, Mandela came to Boston where he met with members of my family at the JFK Library. Always humble, Mandela thanked the Kennedys for “their deep commitment to the struggle against apartheid in South Africa – a commitment which was not just a mere question of words, a commitment which they tried to back up through action.” Of course, it was Mandela’s unwavering commitment to equality that inspired my family to champion his cause.

Today we mourn a leader who stood for all the values we aspire to preserve: equality, freedom, and love. I extend my deepest condolences to his wife, Graça, his family, and to the people who marched with him along his journey. A bright star has indeed faded away, but our memory of Nelson Mandela continues to shine brightly and guide our way.