Mandela's Rise After His Prison Release

Act 4: The former political prisoner becomes president and raises AIDS awareness in his final years.
3:00 | 12/07/13

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Transcript for Mandela's Rise After His Prison Release
become a rallying cry echoing around the world eventually becoming loud enough to shake open those prison doors. Mr. Nelson mandela will be released at the victor-verster prison. February 11, 1990, and nelson mandela would walk to freedom. Those precious moments captured by photographer david turnley. And here's this tall man in his suit, and he was so charming. He hugged everybody, seemed to know everyone by name. It was as if he'd never been in prison. And he walks to the window. And suddenly the sound from this crowd came rushing into this room and he stepped out of the window onto the balcony and addressed the world for the first time in 27 years. Africa, africa. There's mr. Mandela, mr. Nelson mandela. A free man taking his first steps into a new south africa. After all of those years in prison, mandela could have used his political power to fuel a wave of violence against white oppressors. Instead he spoke of one country. I greet you all in the name of peace, democracy and freedom for all. Mandela and south african president f.W. De klerk formed an unlikely alliance that in 1993 would win them both the nobel peace prize. A year later, mandela would run for president himself. The stunning aerial images in the towns surrounding johannesburg. The people of south africa lining up for miles allowed to vote for the first time. And nelson mandela, among them. It was a milestone filled with symbolism. A black man, former political prisoner, about to become president. It was exciting to be able to exercise a right which in my 76 years was denied to me. I felt very excited, it was as i already said, the realization of a long cherished dream. South africa belongs to all its people, black and white. The time has come for us to forget the past. He would chip away at the past in ways large and small. On his first day as president, he met a young woman who worked in the president's office. You were a typist at the time? Yes. She said she was so nervous in that hallway, he began speaking to her in her own language, afrikaans, in an effort to put her at ease. He saw that I was very emotional, and he said to me, "no, no, no. Calm down. The humility of a hero, later visiting with oprah, asking her a question first. When mr. Mandela arrived today, he said to our producer, what is the subject of today's show? After he left office at the age of 81 nelson mandela would focus on new fronts, among them work to combat the spread of aids. I cannot rest until the global response is sufficient to turn the tide of the epidemic. Reporter: Even a super hero slows down in june of 2004 before his 86th birthday mandela announced he was bowing out of public life deploying his trademark humor. I want to be in the position of calling you, to ask whether i would be welcome. The appeal therefore is, don't call me. I'll call you. One of those invitations to first lady michelle obama who visited mandela in south africa in 2011. We sat down with her right after. Nelson mandela. Yeah. What was it like in that room? Surreal. Something I never thought would happen in my lifetime, for me. What did you say to him? I told him, you cannot imagine how important your legacy is to who I am, to who my husband is and I just said thank you, thank you, thank you. Mandela's legacy a lesson for her daughters, and children all over the world. This south african class we met born the year he became president they know the future now rests in their hands. I don't think you would find many other people like him. I think the fact that he came back without any bitterness and without any anger is because he wasn't worried about himself, he was worrying about everyone else. And one more promise kept for his own children. We remember those letters he wrote from prison so many years ago. He wrote, "i am certain that one day i will look back. I will be back at home to live in happiness until the end of my days." Which is precisely what nelson mandela did.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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