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Concert at Manhattan Church Pays Tribute to Nelson Mandela

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A special concert at St. Paul the Apostle Church remembered the legacy of former South African president Nelson Mandela. NY1's Jessica Abo filed the following report.

A song to celebrate Nelson Mandela's life was part of a tribute by the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Soweto Gospel Choir.

New Yorker Pamela Mirels organized the event. She is South African by birth and the founder of CultureHorde, a private arts club that connects professionals to exclusive cultural events around New York. She and her family emigrated to the United States in the late 1980s.

"This is something that we wanted to do in New York for Americans to remember Madiba, to come out and honor his life and remember him collectively," Mirels said.

Sello Hatang, the foundation's chief executive, said that the organization, named for the Nobel Peace Prize winner, holds dialogues on critical social justice issues and focuses on humanitarian work.

"The third element of the work is what we call memory work, where we take Nelson Mandela's special papers, which he gave us, he donated to the Nelson Mandela Foundation to perpetuate the legacy with those papers," Hatang said.

Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman read some of those writings.

"I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities," Freeman said. "It is an ideal for which I hope to live and to see realized."

Former President Bill Clinton shared stories about his late friend, and stressed that Mandela's life and work cannot become a distant memory.

"Pick up the paper tomorrow, read the news, look at where they're fighting, ask yourself what they're fighting about, and ask yourself, if Nelson Mandela were running the affairs of that country, would there be this level of violence and killing, and the answer, invariably, will be no," Clinton said.

Organizers said that money raised from this tribute concert will go toward expanding Mandela's presidential library and to promoting social justice.

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