Nelson Mandela fought to end apartheid, which divided people in South Africans based on race. After his release from prison, he sought reconciliation. He is credited with helping South Africa move past its unjust history.
South Africa became a popular destination for Europeans due to its climate, natural resources and culture, but tensions between whites and blacks were always high. Through the years, institutional oppression formed a system known as apartheid, under which blacks and whites had vastly different rights and privileges. The fight against apartheid accelerated in the middle of the 20th century, and Nelson Mandela was a leader of the anti-apartheid movement. His actions landed him in prison, where he stayed for 27 years.
While Mandela was imprisoned, the anti-apartheid movement gained steam and eventually forced the racist laws to change. After his release, Mandela was elected president of South Africa. Before his imprisonment, Mandela's organization employed violence in the fight against apartheid, and many white South Africans thought he would seek some form of retribution. Instead, Mandela focused on reconciliation and on building ties between the white and black South African communities. His forgiveness has made him an often-cited example of moving forward instead of focusing on the past.