Nevadans recall the legacy, leadership of Nelson Mandela

From Las Vegas’ historic West Side whose history is steeped in segregation, to the corridors of Congress and the governor’s office in Carson City, praise poured in for Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s former president, who spent years in jail in the name of equality.

He was a great leader, they said about Mandela, who died Thursday.

He was an icon whose long walk is done.

“I wish I could have met him. To go through what he went through and to live to be 95? Well, that’s just incredible,” said 39-year-old Nauteachia Black, born and raised in West Las Vegas and a teacher at Legacy High School in North Las Vegas.

Said Gov. Brian Sandoval, “Few have touched the hearts and minds of people all over the world like Nelson Mandela has. His fight for racial equality and freedom transformed his country and set an example for the world. He was a giant while he lived, and his legacy will never be forgotten.”

Ken Evans, president of the Urban Chamber of Commerce in Las Vegas, said Mandela put his country before self. “He had this ability to rise above what was done to him, and he did it for the sake of his country as as whole. Now that’s a true hero.”

Evans said it’s not a stretch to compare Mandela to slain U.S. civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., who also took some punches and kept on going.

Andre Agassi, former pro tennis player who cares about the poor and opened a gym in West Las Vegas, said Mandela will be remembered as “one of the greatest human beings of our generation.”

Agassi added: “When the world gave him their worst, he showed us all his best. Integrity, equality, humility and forgiveness will be just the beginning of his legacy. A thousand years from now mankind will still revere him.”

Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., Nevada’s first black member of Congress, said Mandela never allowed resentment to get the better of him.

“Let us always find lessons and inspiration in President Nelson Mandela’s life, draw strength from his struggle, and remember the strength of his unbreakable spirit.”

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., in a statement, called Mandela “a transcendent hero who championed equality and strength through peace. His life serves as an example of fearless determination and forgiveness that generations will study for years to come.”

And this from Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev.: “With the passing of Nelson Mandela, the world has lost a great leader and a true champion for human rights.”

Said U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader: “As both the emancipator of a people and the founder of a modern democracy, Mandela was one of the truly unique and transcendent figures of our time. Mandela embodied the very spirit of democracy, freedom, and equality. He leaves behind an incredible legacy that will not be forgotten, and which will continue to inspire current and future leaders for generations to come.”