Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born in 1918 and grew up in Soweto, South Africa. Mandela was the first in his family to attend school.
In his 30s, Mandela worked to defend the civil rights of South Africans suffering under the unjust laws. In 1948, Mandela became the face of the anti-Apartheid struggle. The white-led Apartheid government called him an enemy of the country and sentenced to him life in prison in 1964.
While in jail on Robben Island, his fight for a free South Africa never stopped. Mandela’s strong spirit gave hope to people struggling with injustice around the world.
When he was finally released on February 11, 1990 after serving 27 years in prison, the world watched in awe as he walked out a free man. Mandela was elected the country’s first black president on May 4, 1994.
He died on December 5, 2013 at the age of 95. Today, he is a symbol for peace and equality throughout the world.