Tribute by Nelson Mandela on death of Coretta Scott King

February 2006

That Coretta Scott King died so soon after the passing away of Rosa Parks draws our attention to and reminds us once more of the inspiring role played by women and particularly African-American women in the struggle for civil rights and equality in the United States, and hence in the world-wide struggle for human rights, dignity and freedom.

As we today mourn the passing away of Coretta Scott King our feelings of sadness are softened by our knowledge that in her lifetime she worked tirelessly at and succeeded in making the world a better place. The courage with which she and her late husband challenged the seemingly invincible might of institutional oppression and discrimination inspired oppressed people all over the world. The determination and bravery with which she continued that work ensured that the power of memory continued to encourage and inspire.

Her commitment to justice and just peace was universal. We shall remember her as a great American civil rights activist and leader, but equally as one who openly and bravely opposed apartheid at a time when it was neither fashionable nor easy to do so. She occupies a hallowed place in the memory of freedom-loving South Africans and Africans at large.

We join her family, friends, colleagues and community in mourning her death and paying tribute to one who is now recognised in her own nation as a great American and an international ambassador for peace, justice human dignity and freedom.

Graca Machel and Nelson Mandela.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation