- South African President Jacob Zuma: "We've lost our greatest son."
- President Barack Obama: "Like so many around the globe, I cannot fully imagine my own life without the example that Nelson Mandela set. And so long as I live, I will do what I can to learn from him."
- Secretary of State John Kerry: “Nelson Mandela was a stranger to hate. He rejected recrimination in favor of reconciliation and knew the future demands we move beyond the past. He gave everything he had to heal his country and lead it back into the community of nations."
- Former President Bill Clinton: “His story will remember Nelson Mandela as a champion for human dignity and freedom, for peace and reconciliation. We will remember him as a man of uncommon grace and compassion, for whom abandoning bitterness and embracing adversaries was not just a political strategy but a way of life."
- Desmond Tutu: "The sun will rise tomorrow, and the next day and the next. ... It may not appear as bright as yesterday, but life will carry on."
- National Security Advisor Susan Rice: "Even as we mourn, we remember how privileged the world was to witness the transformation he wrought by changing minds and hearts. He was apartheid’s captive but never its prisoner, and he rid the world of one of history’s foulest evils by hewing to universal principles for which he hoped to live but was prepared to die."
- L. Douglas Wilder, former Virginia governor: “He was in a position to say it doesn’t matter how difficult things may appear, how bad things are or how badly you’re treated,” Wilder said. “You can always rise up. You can always achieve.”
- D.C. Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton: "What he has done is to inspire movements around the world—well beyond our own country—and to inspire leaders around the world to understand how leaders around the world are to behave."
- Mitt Romney: “In the modern age, Nelson Mandela will be remembered as an unsurpassed healer of human hearts. By dint of his character, sacrifice, vision and abounding love, he won a revolution without shedding blood, founded a peaceful nation in a land of turmoil, and personified principle in a world searching for integrity.”
- Cindy Mallugu, South African event planner: "Even here—I couldn't come here, I couldn't eat here at a restaurant with whites before he was president. So much changed through him."
- Reginald Mokoena, South African gardener: "I was there when he walked out of prison, I'm here now, it's all so unreal. Our hero is gone."
- Rick Santorum, former Pennsylvania senator: "He was fighting against some great injustice, and I would make the argument that we have a great injustice going on right now in this country with an ever-increasing size of government that is taking over and controlling people’s lives — and Obamacare is front and center in that."
- Kendrick Lamar: "Advising all my young ones that follow me to research a small piece of Nelson Mandela Life. That's how you pay your respect...... GO!"
- Peter Beinart: "As with King, it is this subversive aspect of Mandela’s legacy that is most in danger of being erased as he enters America’s pantheon of sanitized moral icons. But it is precisely the aspect that Americans most badly need. American power and human freedom are two very different things. Sometimes they intersect; sometimes they do not."
- Eve Fairbanks: "So much about his full record is yet to be assessed. There will be many obituaries for him, but today the story of how we will remember him is only beginning to be written."
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