Mayor Michael Bloomberg has ordered that flags at City Hall be lowered to half-staff this evening to honor the late Nelson Mandela, who died earlier today at the age of 95.
“Today, we lost one of the most transformative and influential figures in modern history. Nelson Mandela was a global icon who broke the back of apartheid in South Africa and inspired generations of people around the world with his spirit of resolve and reconciliation,” Mr. Bloomberg said in a statement.
“He devoted his life to building a more just, equal and compassionate world, and we are all better for it. On behalf of the people of the City of New York, I offer my sincere condolences to the Mandela family and the people of South Africa. At my direction, flags at City Hall will be lowered to half-staff in his honor,” the mayor continued.
Mr. Mandela is renowned worldwide for his nonviolent activism, which ushered in the end of the apartheid era in South Africa. Mr. Mandela visited New York City several times, mostly recently in 2005 when Mr. Bloomberg presented him the key to the city.
“The tickertape parade Mayor Dinkins organized for him in 1990 was a great moment for our city, and his visit here in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 helped give our city strength and hope – for which we will be forever grateful,” Mr. Bloomberg recalled. “When I presented Nelson Mandela with the Key to the City in 2005, he spoke passionately about the work of his foundation and his ongoing efforts to tackle the HIV/AIDS epidemic and many other important issues.”
Update (6:12 p.m.): Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed flags on all state building to be flown at half-staff tomorrow in honor of Mr. Mandela and issued a statement in response to the loss.
“Nelson Mandela refused to accept injustice, fought relentlessly for what was right, and showed that a dedicated person of courage actually can change the course of history,” he said. “His struggle to end racism, poverty and inequality began with his fight against apartheid, continued through his service as the first black President of South Africa and is now passed on for the world to continue. We will not soon see again, nor should we ever forget the profound example of humanity that Nelson Mandela embodied. While President Mandala is no longer with us, here in New York and all around the globe, his legacy lives on. His family and friends, and the people of South Africa, are in my thoughts and prayers along with those of all New Yorkers.”