Thursday, December 18, 2014

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Mandela's Legacy Honored In Special New York Public Library Exhibit

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Nelson Mandela's legacy is recalled in a special exhibit at the New York Public Library, a place where New Yorkers can also express their condolences over his death. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.

A ballot from the historic 1994 presidential election in South Africa, which was won by Nelson Mandela, has no names next to the candidates, just their photos. That's because under apartheid, teaching black South Africans to read was not a high priority.

"They had to create a ballot that had pictures of the candidates so that the majority of South Africans would recognize who they were voting for," said Tony Marx, president of the New York Public Library.

The ballot is one of the items on display at the 42nd Street library in an exhibit called "The Struggle for Justice: Nelson Mandela, A Tribute."

There are also posters and buttons from before and after Mandela's release from prison, and there's a guest book for visitors to sign with their thoughts on Mandela.

"We put this exhibit together really in the day that we heard the news and the next day," Marx said. "We want all New Yorkers to have a place to gather, and the New York Public Library is the place for all New Yorkers."

Marx spent time in South Africa during the 1980s working on education initiatives and returned for the election, so he was able to meet the man himself.

"He was so conscious of thinking about the next generation," Marx said. "It's another part of the lesson of Mandela that we best remember here in the United States."

Marx talked about a moment at Mandela's inauguration where there was a military jet fly-by.

"These were jets that were bought by the apartheid government to keep that day from ever happening, and it happened. Amazing moment in history," he said. "And then, the military comes and salutes, in the most dramatic way it can, to their new president."

A similar exhibit runs through December 21 at the Schomberg Center for Research and Black Culture on 135th Street in Harlem. If you want to sign the guest book and you can't make it to those places, you can do it on the New York Public Library's Facebook page. Visit for more information. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP