Residents in Tampa and St. Pete react to Nelson Mandela's illness
Former South African President Nelson Mandela was admitted to hospital on June 8 for a recurring lung infection.
Mandela became South Africa's first democratically elected president in 1994 after spending 27 years in prison for his fight against racist white rule.
WMNF’s Janelle Irwin asked people in downtown St. Pete, Ybor City and East Tampa what they thought about the anti-apartheid leader’s failing health and his contributions to racial equality.
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“I think he’s helped take the stigma out of segregation – like, everybody united as one.” - Marcus Martinez
“I was an admirer of him because, who could not be an admirer of him? I think he was a great man and I think he should be revered and will be.” - Bill Hough
“He did a lot and everything else they want to know, tell them to pick up a book.” - Terry in Tampa
“I know who he is, I know that he’s made a lot of efforts, but I don’t really know the details of those efforts. So, I should probably make more of an effort for that.” - Gabrielle, USF St. Pete
“He has worked hard to establish racial equality in Africa and he’s – it’s sad that he had to go to prison for standing up for his beliefs, but we see that he was a strong person that stood still and stood strong for his people and his beliefs.” - Yolando in Tampa
“I think he’s a great man, Mr. Mandela. I think he did a lot for racial equality. Our equality is a lot better. I think he made the world aware of a lot of things going on – separate, but equal type things, you know.” - Andre Wilde
“He’s certainly done a lot while he was alive. We always see how much of an impact people make when they die. We saw when Michael Jackson died, how much his music sold afterwards and then, even presidents when they die, we learn about them more often and more quickly when we figure, oh they’re not around anymore. As they get older, they kind of fade away and unfortunately, don’t make their biggest impact until they pass on.” - Bill Gowacki
“Mandela is a good man and I think he did a lot for apartheid over the years. I thought apartheid was wrong.” - Owen, Tampa
“I just hope he gets better; I just hope he gets better.” - Bobby Johnson
We asked more than three dozen Tampa Bay residents about Mandela. Most said they either didn’t know who he was or that they didn’t know enough to comment.