8 Powerful Quotes From Nelson Mandela

In 1990, Nelson Mandela walked out of Victor Verster Prison nearly 28 years after he was arrested by South Africa's apartheid regime. By the time of his release, the anti-apartheid revolutionary, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for his involvement with the freedom-fighting African National Congress, had become an international symbol of resistance. On July 18, as the world celebrates Nelson Mandela International Day, let’s remember the way in which Mandela not only lived, but fought, flourished, and preserved.

Mandela is often remembered for his values of peace and freedom, but the anti-apartheid activist may be best-known for his conviction. While facing the death penalty in 1964, Mandela gave one of his most famous speeches:

I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.

To honor the former South African president on this international day of recognition, here are some of Nelson Mandela’s most powerful quotes.

1. On Education


"Education is the most powerful weapon with which you can use to change the world."

2. On Courage


"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."

3. On Leaving Prison

"As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison."

4. On Racism


“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

5. On Resentment

"Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

6. On Apartheid

"Between the anvil of united mass action and the hammer of the armed struggle we shall crush apartheid and white minority racist rule."

7. On Influencing Democracy

David McNew/Getty Images News/Getty Images

"Since my release, I have become more convinced than ever that the real makers of history are the ordinary men and women of our country; their participation in every decision about the future is the only guarantee of true democracy and freedom."

8. On Being President


"One day I will be the first black president of South Africa."

Images: Matthew Willman/Nelson Mandela Foundation, Getty Images (5), Lionel Shapiro/Nelson Mandela Foundation, Nelson Mandela Foundation, David Johnson/Flickr