Cincinnati reflects on Mandela's life

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - In the wake of Nelson Mandela's death, he leaves behind a long legacy.

"His life will continue to live on through a great legacy," said C.G. Newsome, president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

At 95 years old, Mandela was a man of great influence.

"People knew that he had gone to prison fighting for their cause, fighting for their freedom," said Nathaniel Jones, a retired federal judge who met Mandela in South Africa in the 90s.

During his first visit to South Africa, Jones was actually arrested for violating apartheid laws.  But, on a second trip several years later, he met Mandela at banquet. He was visiting the country that time with a group providing help to lawyers defending people being arrested over those apartheid laws.

"They put us next to him at dinner, so we had the whole evening of conversation," Jones said.

Mandela was elected president in 1994. Just a year later, a turning point in South African history took place over the country's rugby team during a World Cup match against New Zealand.

"He's a great humanitarian. He bridged the gap through sports. Sports are very interesting.  It's amazing what sports can do when bringing people together," said Ken Riley, a former Cincinnati Bengals player.

"Sport has the power to change the world," said Mandela in a speech he made several years ago.

The Freedom Center honored Mandela earlier this year. Officials there say his life and struggles should live on as an inspiration.

"We have both seen the passing of a great soul, but in a way that that soul led the kind of life that should inspire us all to become our better selves," Newsome told FOX19.

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