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Central New Yorkers React to Mandela's Death

Nelson Mandela, the man who spent years in prison simply because of race and was recognized around the world as a living symbol of human rights, is dead. South African State Television announced the passing of the human rights activist and former South African President just after 5pm tonight. He was 95 years old.
Nelson Mandela, the man who spent years in prison simply because of race and was recognized around the world as a living symbol of human rights, is dead. South African State Television announced the passing of the human rights activist and former South African President just after 5pm tonight. He was 95 years old.
His incredible life impacted people around the world and right here in the Mohawk Valley.
Mandela’s death hit hard in Central New York. People have mixed emotions of shock, sadness and for some, even relief.
“Actually, I was relieved for him, you know I know that his body was ailing and that his spirit would be better served leaving that frail old body,” said Cassandra Harris-Lockwood, President of For the Good Incorporated.
Harris-Lockwood says she remembers as a little girl not hearing much about the apartheid in South Africa. But as she learned more and more, the similarities between the civil rights movement in South Africa and America became clear.
"There’s just a big parallel between the freedom movement of black Americans and black Africans so he's there with Martin Luther King and Gandhi and all the great ones who have sacrificed for people's freedom," says Harris-Lockwood.
Mandela was a beacon of hope for all oppressed people. The 95 year old died peacefully and Harris-Lockwood is content with that.
“He went from a prisoner to a president, you know it's just such an elevation and I don't think it gets any better than that, you know he saw his children, his grandchildren, his great grandchildren, and the country that he shaped adores him and he'll be remembered for all time," said Harris-Lockwood.
Others say regardless of how he died, Thursday was a sad day.
"I was saddened, deeply saddened, because he was such an important figure in global history over the past 50/60 years, everything he stood for, he fought hard and he had so many people that he gave hope to,” said Tammy Wiley from Whitesboro.
“Anytime you have someone of this significance, his historical importance, you'll stop and think about just how important he was, reflect on it and then for me, just talk with my kids about his importance, you know we just finished talking about JFK and the things he did and now we're going to be talking about him," says Jeff Wright of Utica.
The people Eyewitness News talked to Thursday night had mixed emotions, sad of course, that he's gone but content with his long and fulfilling life.
Mandela had not been seen in public since 2010 when South Africa hosted the soccer World Cup. He had also been in and out of the hospital for quite some time.


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