HARRISBURG, Dec. 5, 2013 – State Sen. Anthony Williams, Democratic whip, shared the following statement on the death of the iconic Nelson Mandela:

“For those of us who were – or whose parents and families were – fully enmeshed in the struggle for civil and human rights, Nelson Mandela was more than a legendary hero in a distant land. He embodied a universal affirmation that we all worked toward, that all people – regardless of color, income, ethnicity, orientation, history, or faith – deserve to participate and be respected in society.

“When he emerged from his cell on Robbie Island and went on to become president of the nation that had inflicted pain and humiliation upon him and his family, we were struck not just by his perseverance and energy but also by his wisdom and grace. Disregarding temptations like vengeance and hate, he instead embraced love and reconciliation, helping to heal a nation that today is truly part of our global village.

“People of every age, all across the globe, have studied and learned from his example. We continue to seek and incorporate those lessons into our daily lives. Collectively, we are better for it.

“Today, the world has lost a great man and we mourn him. But it has added to its lexicon of icons, and we celebrate that. Much like Mother Teresa and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mandela proved, without doubt, that each and every one of us can make a difference; that to lead simply requires taking one determined step forward, and continuing to press ahead for that which is right, in spite of the odds.

“Nelson Mandela has earned his eternal rest and eternal reward – as well as our eternal gratitude.”