On this day in 1990, South Africa's Nelson Mandela was released after spending 27 years in prison. Mandela, who became a symbol of the anti-apartheid movement, was originally opposed to violence. However, following a massacre of unarmed black South Africans, he began to advocate for acts of sabotage against the government. After several arrests, in 1964 he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Mandela spent the next 18 years at the notorious Robben Island prison before being moved to another location, where he lived under house arrest.
In the 1980s, international pressure calling for the Mandela's release built. Finally, in 1989, F.W. de Klerk was elected president of South Africa and began the work to end apartheid and transform the nation into a multi-racial democracy. In February 1990, he ordered Mandela's release from prison. Three years later, the two were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their work to "break the vicious circle that their country was caught up in."
The following year, in South Africa's first multi-racial election, Nelson Mandela won 62% of the votes. On May 10, 1994, he was inaugurated as the country's first black president.
To learn more about Nelson Mandela & the end of apartheid in South Africa, try the following resources:
- A Glimpse Inside Nelson Mandela's Memoirs (CBSNews)
- Hopes of a Nation (Los Angeles Times)
- The Long Walk of Nelson Mandela (PBS)
- Mandela: An Audio History (NPR)
- Mandela Celebrates 90th Birthday (BBC)
- Mandela: From Prisoner to South African President (AP)
- Mandela's Life and Times (BBC)
- Nelson Mandela (Time)
- Nelson Mandela Foundation
- Nelson Mandela International Day (UN)
- Nelson Mandela's Life & Leadership (Time)
- The Nelson Mandela Trial (Famous Trials)
- South Africa: Overcoming Apartheid, Building Democracy
- What Mandela Taught Us (CNN)