Nelson Mandela, Anti-Apartheid Hero, Dead at 95

Former South African president turned global icon changed the world with his beliefs.
3:00 | 12/06/13

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Transcript for Nelson Mandela, Anti-Apartheid Hero, Dead at 95
Nelson mandela's face is one of the most recognizable in the world. And tonight in south africa this symbol of racial equality died at the age of 95. From boxer to advocate, prisoner to peace prize winner, seemed mandela was always fighting for a cause greater than himself. It's clear that his legacy as a champion of human rights, equality and freedom will be forever etched in our minds and memories. Like so many around the globe, I cannot fully imagine my own life without the example that nelson mandela set. And so long as I live, I will do what I can to learn from him. To celebrities and mostly ordinary citizens of the world, an outpouring of love and mourning. We are live in johannesburg. Alex? Good evening, dan. A new day has dawned here in south africa. A profound sense of loss has swept across this country. But what's remarkable are the scenes of celebration that we see. South africans going out in the streets. When the news broke tonight of mandela's death, south africans flocked to his home, young, old, white, black. They danced. They sang old songs of struggle from the apartheid era. I think we should celebrate what he has achieved and what he has given us. I wouldn't be free without him. But some who showed up to pay their respects were overcome with grief. I'm disappointed. I'm sad. But at the same time, I think he's had his part in life and he did it very well. Jacob zuma broke the news to the nation and to the world. He's now at peace. Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father. Tributes to the man immediately poured in, including from f.D. Declare, the last president of white supremist south africa. Now there will be ten days of national mourning during which time mandela will lie in state so that south africans can say their final good-byes before his body is transported back for barrel. When nelson mandela walked out of prison in 1990, after nearly 30 years it represented much more than his personal freedom. It meant that he and all of those who fought so hard for him and his cause had finally won a major battle. Ted coppel was there to speak with him soon after he was released. This is abc news nightline, reporting from south africa, ted coppel. Tonight we have only one guest, nelson mandela. Most people would look at the last 27 years of your life and say to themselves what a waste. What about you? That is true. To spend 27 years in jail is a tragedy. I regret the years that I have wasted in prison. But, very positive aspects, too, because I had the opportunity to think about problems and to reflect on my mistakes. Amazing. And over the years, mandela's special history continued. On the man who helped change so much. There is mr. Nelson mandela, a free man taking his first step s. It was a long walk. A walk that lasted nearly a century. Freedom and human dignity. A walk he ended up taking the whole world on. On behalf of our rainbow nation, I welcome you all. Nelson mandela towered over. A moral and political strength and profound decency. Rebirth that can now be realized. So that all of our children may play in the sun. Mandela was born in 1918 into a royal family, but he grew up under apartheid, the the vicious cycle of segregation by which the white minority ruled south africa. It's hard today to imagine the pure evil of that system. Abject poverty for blacks and restrictions on travel, education and employment. Whites enjoyed all of the power and riches in this country. His triable name meant troublemaker so perhaps it was his des atidestiny. He became a leading agitator for change as an attorney. He and the african national congress took up armed struggle. Will tl are many that feel it is useless for us to continue talking peace and non-violence. Mandela was a born leader and in 1964 the apartheid government tried him for treason and sought the death penalty. I have challenerished the idea of a democratic and free society. It is an idea for which I hope to live for and to see realized. But my lord, if it needs be, it is an idea for which I am prepared to die. Mandela was sent to robben i-lend prison and not heard from for nearly 30 years. He was just prisoner number 46664. Mandela became a myth, a global symbol for the fight against apartheid. And then in 1990, the south african government, under increasing pressure suddenly yielded. Mr. Nelson mandela will be released. It was an amazing moment when mandela walked out of prison on february 11, 1990, the world rejoiced. After his release, there was miraculously no trace of bitterness for what he had endured. Today, the majority of south africans, black and white, recognize that apartheid has no future. He worked with his form ehren my to move towards free elections and the end of apartheid. He and the clerk were jointly awarded the nobel peace prize in 1993 and then the following year, this. The world looked on in wonder and joy as millions of black south africans lined up to vote for the first time. Nelson mandela was elected president in a landslide. A few months later at his inauguration, he declared a new era for his beloved country. Never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again have the oppression of one by another. Mandela served only one five year term. The years had taken their toll. Mandela and his wife winnie divorced after a four year separation. He took on the role of elder world statesman fighting injus sis. He married his third wife and long time congressmmpanion on his 80th birthday. Don't call me. I'll call you. His public apparents became increasingly rare, each one of them a reason to celebrate. He was all smiles when his great grandchildren sang to him on his 92nd birthday. When he closed his eyes for the last time, mandela was surrounded by hi his family and by the affection and admire ration of the world. He has truly fought the good fight, walked that long walk. A journey unfinished towards juss 'tis, peace, and love. And on that journey, we all follow in nelson mandela's footsteps.

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

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