Thursday, April 17, 2014

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NYers In Harlem, Fort Greene Honor Mandela's Legacy

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Tributes to Nelson Mandela were seen and heard across the city after his death Thursday.

The Apollo Theater honored Mandela on its world-famous marquee with a sign that read, "In Memory of Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013. He changed our world."

News of his passing left some visibly shaken.

"He mean everything. He mean the world to me," said one person.

"For Nelson Mandela to leave us, but to leave a legacy that I think is beautiful, extraordinary, he is the one that epitomizes what it means to be a great human being," said another.

"I'm in shock because this man changed the world," said a third. "He's up there with Dr. King, Malcolm X. We're not going to ever see leaders like that again."

During Mandela's first visit in 1990, there was a much different sign welcoming him to the city.

Billy Mitchell, an Apollo historian, remembered what it was like to see him that day.

"Personally, it meant a lot to me as a young man knowing about what happens in Africa. I was following what was going on in apartheid, and to see this man who was in jail for 26 years did not give up, never giving in, to make sure that his people were free, this was watched all over the world," Mitchell said. "He was a magnificent man, and for me to see him in Harlem, the place I love, was something very, very awesome."

Mandela spoke just blocks away from the Apollo Theater 23 years ago, praising black history and its leaders in America.

In Brooklyn, a crowd gathered at a popular South African restaurant with Mandela's clan name.

At Madiba Restaurant on Dekalb Avenue, patrons sent paper lanterns into the air.

Madiba was the first South African restaurant of its kind on the East Coast.

It embodies the spirit of Mandela with paintings and pictures of him.

News of Mandela's death was played over the television to a stunned crowd, who said that they were proud to celebrate what Mandela represented.

"He represents hope for humanity in terms of the global human family," said one person. "Mandela is that person that represented hope for us as humanity, the differences that we have. He's the person that made it possible to see that we can all come together and live together and be together, despite all our differences, despite all the idiosyncrasies that we have."

Mandela's daughters visited the restaurant earlier this year. ClientIP:,, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP