Nelson Mandela (Photo by Media24/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Nelson Mandela, Nobel Peace Prize winner and former president of South Africa, has died. He was 95.
Nelson Mandela's inspirational life: photos, quotes and more
Mandela first gained international attention after being imprisoned for anti-apartheid activities. During the 1950s, Mandela became active politically as the white Afrikaner-controlled government increasingly institutionalized racial segregation. Though segregation of the races had long been a matter of fact in South Africa, under the National Party elected in 1948, racial segregation or "apartheid" was expanded, becoming a stricter - and more strictly enforced - matter of law.
In their opposition to apartheid, Mandela and the African National Congress for a time followed Mahatma Gandhi's model of nonviolent resistance (a practice Gandhi first developed while living in South Africa.) But after 1960's Sharpeville massacre where the police killed 69 black protesters, the ANC changed tactics. Mandela became leader of the ANC's newly formed armed wing and led a bombing campaign against places symbolic of apartheid.
In 1964, Mandela and several other members of the African National Congress were convicted of sabotage. After Mandela was sentenced to life in prison, Amnesty International led a campaign against the harsh conditions of his imprisonment and helped bring Mandela - and his struggle against apartheid - to the notice of the world. Following years of negotiation, Mandela was released from prison in 1990. He had spent 27 years behind bars, continuing the fight against apartheid all the while.
Within four years of his release, South Africa held its first multiracial election, with ANC leader Mandela being elected president - the first South African president to be chosen in a fully representative democratic election. During his four-year term, Mandela guided the country toward social and economic equality.
In 1993, Nelson Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his decades of work toward ending apartheid and achieving racial equality and unity in South Africa.
Mandela is survived by his wife, Graça Machel, and three of his six children.