Florida Senator Chris Smith

Florida Senator Chris Smith, former Gov. Charlie Crist and Rep. Alcee Hastings attend the funeral for Rev. Dr. Mack King Carter of New Mount Olive Baptist Church. (Susan Stocker, Sun Sentinel / October 10, 2013)

Original post | 5:43 p.m. Dec. 6

Updated | 11:45 a.m., 12:43 p.m. and 3:36 Dec. 7

Black political leaders from South Florida, along with many others, are speaking out about Thursday’s death of South African statesman Nelson Mandela.

Two of the most prominent black political leaders are U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, and Florida Senate Democratic Leader Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale.


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From Hastings:

“Today, the world mourns the loss of a great leader, a Nobel laureate, and a champion of equality. A commanding advocate for equal rights and opportunities, Nelson Mandela led the charge against institutional racism and discrimination in South Africa, fighting apartheid and fostering an era of peace and reconciliation. Truly, the name Nelson Mandela has become synonymous with peace, justice, and the most steadfast perseverance.

“The outpouring of support across the globe for President Mandela is a testament to his integrity and fortitude. I have no doubt that his name will live on for generations to come. I join with the people of South Africa and the world in honoring his remarkable life, and offer my thoughts and prayers to President Mandela’s family and country in this time of sadness.”

From Smith:

On behalf of every member of the Senate Democratic Caucus, I offer my deepest sympathies to the Mandela family, and to the people of South Africa.

“To say that Nelson Mandela was an inspiration to people throughout the world is an understatement. I traveled to his birthplace, and to his prison cell. I reached out to touch the cold bars that held him, and I could look for just a brief time at the limestone rock quarry he worked at for more than a quarter century before finally returning to freedom.

“That servitude at the rock quarry cost him a great deal of his eyesight, but it never blinded him to his mission. He is and will always be a testament to the determination of the human spirit no man could break, and the yearning for freedom no imprisonment could conquer.”

From U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, a Miami-Dade County Democrat who represents part of South Broward:

“The world will probably never again see a man of Nelson Mandela’s courage and conviction.  He was truly a remarkable and inspirational human being to have endured 27 years as a political prisoner and to respond with forgiveness and reconciliation. President Mandela inspired a movement for freedom and equality that not only transformed South Africa but also humanity. Nelson Mandela was a man of steel and a symbol of peace. He was a gift from God to this world.”

From Florida House Minority Leader Perry Thurston, a Broward Democrat: 

“On behalf of the Florida House Democratic Caucus, I offer my sincerest condolences on the news of the death of Nelson Mandela, one of the most inspirational leaders of our time.

“As a peaceful champion for the causes of equality, fairness, freedom and justice, time and again Nelson Mandela showed the world the power of moral courage. It is with the deepest gratitude that I offer sympathies to the Mandela family, the people of South Africa, and all who have been affected by his life’s work.” 

State Rep. Hazelle Rogers, D-Lauderhill:

“I join in celebrating the life of Nelson Mandela, a champion for the people of South Africa, and to offer my condolences and deepest sympathy to his family.

“We are grateful for his legacy of commitment, his fight for freedom and justice and the ultimate sacrifice of 27 years of imprisonment.

“The world became a better place because of his courage to accept the calling to be President of his country. Nelson Mandela’s work will never be forgotten.”