By Diana Rocco
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Nelson Mandela came to Philadelphia 20 years ago, on two occasions in 1993 to receive the Liberty Medal and then after he became South Africa’s President.
“He’s someone we can all look at and say, ‘That is a good man.’ He represents something redeeming about who we can be as people,” says Robert Bogle, the president of the Philadelphia Tribune.
Bogle was at the old convention center in 1994. As the crowds came in, he was seated next to Mandela, and there was a moment he’ll never forget.
“I threw my hands up, and he threw his hands up, and he grabbed mine,” Bogle remembers.
The ballot from Mandela’s election hangs in State Senator Vincent Hughes’ office.
“Just to shake his hand and to look at him like I’m looking at you now is very inspiring,” Hughes says.
“He’s a man who I judge myself by…Philadelphia was a hot bed for the free South Africa movement,” he adds.
Hughes, like many, rallied and protested for Mandela’s freedom, eventually visiting one of the prisons where Mandela was held years later. It’s now a museum.
Hughes says through his actions and words, Mandela moved him to aspire to something greater.
“Nelson Mandela was and is the greatest leader the world has ever seen. Here’s a guy who led a nation to freedom and for three decades did it from behind bars,” he says.