Upon learning of the death of Nelson Mandela in 2013, John Lewis offered a moving tribute to South Africa’s first Black president. His written homage offered compelling insight into the minds of both of the storied civil rights leaders.
“The first time I had a chance to meet him was in South Africa after his release from prison. He gave me this unbelievable hug. I will never forget it,” Lewis recalled in a statement released by his congressional office. “He said, ‘John Lewis, I know all about you. You inspired us.’ I said, ‘No, Mr. Mandela, you inspired us.’ I felt unworthy really to be standing at his side. I knew I was in the presence of greatness.”