tv Tavis Smiley PBS December 6, 2013 12:00am-12:31am PST
good evening, from los angeles. i am tavis smiley. this is my tribute to the life and legacy of nelson mandela, who survived 27 years in prison, and led south africa out of the nightmare of apartheid, and beacones to serve as a for anyone who values justice and equality. his battle against retaliation set a standard to which all of us should aspire. belafonte,is harry maxine waters and larry king. thank you for joining me on my tribute to nelson mandela, starting now. >> there is a saying dr. king said, there is always the right time to do the right thing.
i try to live my life doing the right thing. we are halfway to completely eliminate hunger and we have a lot of work to do. spending over $1 billion to fight hunger in the u.s.. if we were together we can stamp this out. >> and by contributions to your pbs stations, from viewers like you. thank you. ♪ tavis: please to be joined now by harry belafonte, a longtime friend of president and della. an advocate for justice and equality in his own right. i met with him in new york city to talk about nelson mandela's great contributions to the world.
envious and jealous of you for so many reasons, not the least of which is that handsome visage i am looking at right now, but you have had a chance to befriend everybody, duboise, martin luther king, paul robeson, nelson mandela. out of all the people you have been friends with and struggled with, what makes nelson mandela so uniquely different? >> the people i have been privileged to serve, nelson mandela was the one i least suspected i would ever come to me, personally. i tried several times when he was incarcerated, to gain the privilege of visiting him, but the system would not permit that. himarted corresponding with while he was in prison.
i had come to be aware of him through my mentor, the man who i most admired, paul robeson. e was very close to king against thewas apartheid system in the early day of its presence in south africa. he was the first black man to ever receive the nobel prize. looking at south africa from that prison, i began to become more aware of what the african national congress was doing, and what the leadership was aspiring to do, to make the decisions that would help us fight the struggle that the south african people were fighting in resisting apartheid. >> is one thing to work alongside dr. king, but with regards to nelson mandela, for 27 years he was behind bars.
what do you recall about working alongside one of the star -- stalwart leaders of this movement, to end the apartheid, when he was mostly behind bars at that time. >> it was a very touching and exciting and rewarding experience. visit a man who had been selected by the leadership, to lead the anc during nelson mandela's incarceration. he was given the power and the authority to give instructions to the rest of us who were in the service of that cause. i often heard nelson mandela's voice very clearly through the things that he was doing. it became apparent that we were getting closer and closer to the time when mandela would be
freed. many of us looked to that with a great sense of hope, but i never thought i would live long enough to see him released from prison. but he was released -- and i was instructed to help them prepare for the first visit to the united states. capacity, i corresponded nelsonnnie mandela and himself, to set up the kind of environment that would be most rewarding with his visit for the united states. here and i was charged with the responsibility of leading the demands that were made upon us for the visit here. >> that was the very first time the very that was
first time, during that excitement i was able to meet you and befriend you, but let me thatfor all the courage you have seen in your life, a lot of this exhibited by by king and robison, and the two persons you basically sponsored, and brought to the attention of the american for all- out of africa, the courage you have seen in your lifetime, how do you properly contextualize the courage he had to stay in prison during those 27 years when you know that if he had struck a deal here or there, he could have gotten out sooner. how do you describe that kind of courage -- >> it is not easy to contextualize that.
commodity,h a rare this is such a divine existence, that he revealed. as power and his current was great instruction to the rest of us, who were thinking of ways in which to relieve ourselves from oppression. his commitment to what we were doing with our struggle here in the united states struck me with a great sense of validation. he was very curious to know how we were going to get to the systems of segregation, and what we were experiencing here in america. especially since we had chosen to take nonviolence as the main key to the success of the mission. he watched us very carefully and often spoke about the fact that
watching how we successfully change things with nonviolence exist, andrument, to the pressure we were experiencing, it gave him a sense of what his mission could be like. he also referred to the fact had said in using nonviolence, from the origins, he was inspired. here was a man with the most trained military force, military -- military force in the continent of africa. well trained and equipped and capable of creating a great deal of mayhem, but with all that power and those skills at his disposal, he always cautioned violence, as a solution,
as a solution to the grievances of the people of south africa and what they were experiencing. i think when he was released, one of the first things he talked about, along with archbishop desmond tutu, the idea that we would use a nonviolent environment in which to discuss the history of south africa up until that moment, but and how to govern the state and bring the country into a state of wholesomeness. this was an incredible moment in human history. tavis: we continue in our tribute to nelson mandela, talking to our friends whose pasts crossed with this wonderful man several times. maxine waters first met with him during his first visit to the
u.s., and larry king, who i am jealous of because he had the chance to interview president nelson mandela a number of times. i saw that your interview with him is rated as one of the all- time greats. >> i had the honor of spending time with -- in his home, i was in johannesburg to speak with a group of banks, the banking people were close to him. i was able to go to his house and have tea, and we had a wonderful three or four hours and then that night i had been klerk, who had freed him, and i was this jewish kid from brooklyn, i wondered what i am doing here. tavis: when you sit across from nelson mandela, what do you see? >> some people are special. they change a room, they walk
into a room, and by their very presence they change the room. say, because to there are great figures in the 21st century. mandela, with what he went through, with what he overcame, and then, the highest act of the christian ethic is to forgive, nobody could touch the forgiveness of nelson mandela. to then have the guards who imprisoned him, attending his inaugural, what can you say? tavis: maxine waters fought hard to end apartheid, in california even before you got to congress. the very first rally i ever went to, the first protest rally was cienega,re, and la when she was leading this fight to bring back apartheid.
nation, what was happening in america, and now we see nelson mandela as a hero, ut we were so late -- >> don't forget that our country and public policy did not take us to the concerns of africa. they did not have a voice. africans, they were who the spokesperson would listen to. just because we watched our country not understand the opposition leadership, and the dictatorships, and other things through the years, this was true of south africa. it was only after they became nc, and they the a labeled them communists and terrorists, we joined them from here to say, this is the
liberation movement. but this was hard. racism prevailed in the united states. tavis: i will never forget as long as i live, the night that nelson mandela was being interviewed by ted koppel. i had never seen him get the business. nelson mandela gave him the business that night and said, you don't tell me who my friends are. >> what was ted koppel telling him? >> what happened is nelson mandela and the anc had to from all over the world. and basically, he was being rafat was incause a support of getting rid of apartheid. he was being told you can't talk to him and then he said, you can't tell me who my friends are. tavis: at the time i was not on
tv but this is where i was headed. this is a broadcasters questioned. have thisasion you interview, do you feel that those conversations measured up? sometimes you get a big-name name and they don't give you anything. >> he was 100%. i tried to anticipate what someone will be like. but he more than magnified them. reaching,rm, far- forgiving and understanding, with a gentleness and the warmth, but at the same time, there was a strength, to perceive strength and understanding, through strength at the same time. >> i was fascinated by him. he joined them in his 20s. smart, but hed,
was a warrior, he really did provide the leadership with confronting the apartheid regime. what is fascinating about him is knowing what he went through, and then serving 27 years in prison, coming out and talking about forgiveness. klerk told me he called nelson mandela the day before he was released, we are planning a wonderful thing in the legislature in johannesburg, i will introduce you, we will have dinner in your honor, and i would like you to a dress the legislature. i will walkla said, out of the prison and walk among the people. what surprised me the most about him is that forgiveness. robinson,ertson, --
he had to not be what he was. the real jackie robinson was very angry, he died angry and he did not trust kennedy. put me in myt grave telling me things will be ok. i want to know what my son will have, a level laying field. but nelson mandela was not angry. >> he was so awesome in his presence, this was something asut him, that made you feel if you had to be a better person. in his presence, you wanted to be the best that you could be. time i have spent working to bring down apartheid, when i met nelson mandela, the moment after his release, it stunned me.
i was at the inauguration in the walking past us was every leader in the world. around for a long time and i thought that usually, i am very excited. but i was stunned over at the inauguration. in honor of flew nelson mandela, like you said, the very people who were responsible for his incarceration and all of that. this is a moment i hold in my hand all the time. tavis: let me close by asking you the same question. whatever you think of nelson mandela, you've made it clear you think he is the greatest figure of the 20th century. but how do we go about living his legacy. as one.cepting people by dealing with people who use
the n-word. by living a life being fair and equal. i have never understood prejudice. it never made sense to me, to prejudge. miami, to get in my first job, the first thing i saw was a colored water fountain, and i drank out of it. tavis: i want to say something -- >> it was cold and religious and i got in a bus and i got in the back. it was more comfortable. tavis: congresswoman, the last word. how do we live this legacy? >> we have to have courage. i decided a long time ago i would try to do public policy, even though you can't fight this from the inside. nelson mandela gave me courage. from the a bill
companies that were doing business in south africa. this was significant. we had the largest economy in the country and maybe the world. i will tell you this quickly. after i had the bill introduced and passed, working and all of that, when nelson was out, i still would not support the idea that we should rebuild the legislation that we have done. one day i am in my office and get a telephone call. who is on the other line? nelson mandela. he says, it is time to let go. i said -- yes. he said, it is time to repeal the legislation. tavis: what is amazing is he calls you to tell you that. -- in thisntry country we did not take him off
the terrorist list until -- after the nobel peace prize. i went into his house and he said i never thought you would be in my house. tavis: thank you both. i appreciate it. with the passing of nelson mandela, the world has lost a towering force for moral leadership and a kind and inspiring human being. his courage and strength in the face of unrelenting violence and his compassion for those who try to destroy him have inspired all of us who shared in his lifetime and will -- he will continue to inspire generations no doubt for years to come. i want to share a personal memory i have of the man. i was a young assistant to tom bradley and nelson mandela was coming to our city. for days prior i could not sleep through the night.
mandela was coming to los angeles and i was plotting about how to position myself to meet him, shake his hand and maybe take a photo. i was trying to devise a strategy that may find me hiding in a closet in the mayor's office until he arrived for a private meeting with my boss. in the public rallied to follow in the steps of city hall. l.a. was one of the final stops on a grueling 12 day, eight city following his release from prison after 27 years. i was just a 25-year-old junior aide to mayor bradley back then. i thought of mandela and what he had endured, and he had been in prison for his believes longer than i had been living at the time. there was no way i was going to out wit what i now know to be a standard building sweep by the secret service prior to the
arrival of dignitaries and heads of state. sure enough, before they arrived, the secret service forced everyone out of the suite. wasuld tell by the route he taking inside, with city hall, there was no way i was going to be close to mr. mandela. i stood outside with tens of thousands of other citizens, who had come to celebrate the rarest of human beings. king is the greatest american that this country has produced, but he was dead long before i was out of diapers. here is a freedom fighter who represents the closest thing to martin luther king's courage that i will ever meet. but i was stuck outside until someone yelled to me that the mayor was asking for me. they let me back in city hall and i moved through the hallways
now filled with his entourage to see what the mayor needed. i am looking for a glimpse of nelson mandela and winnie myself. of all the celebrities and personalities, nelson mandela wanted to meet with mohamed ali and sydney party a -- sidney poitier, i went outside to insideali and poitier the mayor's office. my heart was beating so fast i went outside and secured them, as i had been told. doori opened the security that led to the mayor's office, and the entourage saw ali and them,r walking toward i cannot explain the dancing and the chance and the love and the
joy and the full ecstasy in that hallway as we walked to nelson mandela and winnie mandela. it is not about the breath that we take but the moments that take our breath away, those precious memories. thise relieved -- relived countless times. when i remember this i get joy, unspeakable. i started friendships with two iconic americans, and my life and work have been greatly influenced and enriched by their friendship. with nelson mandela, i did not have a conversation with him, but i did get a handshake and a hug. what can be more inspiring for a 25-year-old african-american male wanting to make a meaningful contribution to society? this has meant more to me than words could ever express. as nelson mandela was dancing with mortality, we were asked to
keep them in our prayers and now that he is gone, we will continue to do that and give thanks for his courage and his commitment to justice for all, service to others, and a love that liberates people. i want to close by saying that the choices he made, and the life that he lived remind us all that we have to give our fear and expiration date, and worked unceasingly to create the kind of world that we want to inhabit. good night from los angeles. and like always, keep the faith. ♪ captioned by the national captioning institute --www.ncicap.org-- >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at pbs.org. >> join me next time as i take a deep dive into what is grabbing the country's attention in the coming weeks.
that is next time, and we will see you then. >> there is a thing that dr. king had, it is always the right time to do the right thing. i try to live my life the right way every day. we are only halfway to completely eliminating hunger, we have a lot of work to do. walmart submitted $200 million to fighting hunger in the united states. working together, we can stamp hunger out. >> and by contributions to your pbs stations, from viewers like you. thank you. ♪
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