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SU System mourns, remembers Nelson Mandela - Thursday, December 5, 2013

Pictured is former president of South Africa Nelson Mandela with then SU System President Leon R. Tarver II during spring commencement at Southern University Baton Rouge, May12, 2000, in A.W. Mumford Stadium. In addition to serving as commencement speaker during a May 10-12 visit to Baton Rouge, Mandela also received honorary degrees from Southern and LSU, and the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at SU was named in his honor.                                - Photo The Advocate

The Southern University System is deeply saddened by the death of Mr. Nelson Mandela former president of South Africa.

Mandela, who was the first black president of the Republic of South Africa, died at age 95.

The legendary statesman and humanitarian spent much of his adult life (27 years) imprisoned for fighting apartheid and injustice in the African nation.

"The SU family has profound memories of President Mandela's legacy of advocacy, as a fearless leader, and of his gracious and caring nature for humankind," said SU System President Ronald Mason Jr.

In 2000, Mandela was invited to Southern University and to Baton Rouge by then SU System President Leon R. Tarver II.

During a May 10-12, 2000 visit, Mandela received honorary doctoral degrees from Southern University and Louisiana State University, marking the first time the two universities awarded honorary degrees

"The historical and personal privilege of having hosted and befriended one of the most courageous and honored men of our time is almost beyond words," said Tarver, now a member of the SU System Board of Supervisors and a retired professor of public policy.

"Southern University and the City of Baton Rouge can take great pride in having welcomed and celebrated a leader who steadfastly fought against oppression and for human rights for his homeland, and the world," Tarver expressed.

To commemorate the historic visit and to honor his sacrifices and dedication to democracy, the University named its School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs in Mandela's honor.

Thousands attended spring commencement exercises in A.W. Mumford Stadium on May 12, 2000, to hear the revered revolutionary speak.

"Our hearts and prayers are extended to the people of South Africa and to his world family," said Mason.