Mayor Dinkins on Mandela in New York

Friday, December 06, 2013

Nelson Mandela, on stage with Mayor David Dinkins, on his 1990 visit to NYC (MARIA BASTONE, AFP/Getty)

We remember the times Nelson Mandela visited New York City, particularly his 1990 visit, shortly after being freed from prison, where he spoke at City Hall, Riverside Church, and Yankee Stadium. Former Mayor David Dinkins, who presented Mandela with the key to the city, remembers the visit. Were you there for his speeches? Do you have memories of Mandela in New York City? Post below or call 212-433-9692

"Apartheid is Doomed" Mandela's 1990 Speech at City Hall

Mandela at Yankee Stadium

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Comments [3]

Barbara Nevins Taylor from New York city

Mayor Dinkins' reflection jogged my memory of Nelson Mandela in New York. It was pretty special.

It was 1990 and Nelson Mandela, just months since being freed after 27 years in prison in South Africa, was headed to New York.

I was a reporter for WCBS-TV (Channel 2). It was different media world back then. There were fewer news outlets, not a great of deal of celebrity coverage and journalists weren't treated as the enemy and kept at bay by ropes and metal gates as we are now.

Because of my contacts, I had access to the behind-the-scenes fundraising efforts that a group of artists and athletes, led by Harry Belafonte, organized to help pay for Mandela to appear at Yankee Stadium and other events.

A cameraman and I visited what essentially was a temporary telephone boiler room in a small office in the building that Robert De Niro owns above his Tribeca Grill restaurant. De Niro had donated the space and it was filled with actors and others calling out to friends for money.

We listened in as Steven Van Zandt, his head wrapped in a scarf, leaned into a telephone handset and pitched his friends. His excitement was contagious and even though we were there as journalists, it was impossible not to share a sense of excitement about the Mandela visit. It all seemed extraordinarily special and we were as keyed up as everyone else.

My husband Nick and I were lucky to get an invite to the dinner for Mandela after the the big parade in the Canyon of Heroes. The room was filled with faces you'd recognize and at one point Mandela was asked to speak.

There's more and its at

Dec. 06 2013 11:50 PM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

The sentimental view the Western media’s presents Nelson Mandela legacy is ridicules. To be sure Mr. Mandela was a great symbol for liberation and anti-apartheid movement, however the real action was with the ANC and the years they fought in the bush. By the end of the Soviet Union the US, and Great Britain recognized that the apartheid regime had to go. They cut a deal with the ANC supporting that project in return the ANC was to guarantee all Western capital and business interests in the New South Africa. In essence hyper capitalism was imposed. Mandala was chosen by the ANC as there PR man since he was not involved in violent liberation tactics.
20 years later, there is mass poverty in South Africa and in 2012 dozen of miner in Marikana were shot dead by the South African Police because they where asking for a pay increase from the British owned mining company.
Capital interests are in the hands of foreigners, a certain class of whites-not all- dominate the economy and a ruling black elite is handsomely paid off.
Yet there is no diminishing Mr. Mandela’s importance to South African history.

Dec. 06 2013 11:37 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Never compare South Africa to the Arab-Israel conflict in the Middle East. That's comparing coconuts and oranges.

Dec. 06 2013 11:02 AM

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