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Jackson, GOP U.S. rep will attend Mandela tribute

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(AP file photo)
Former South African President Nelson Mandela (left) walks with the Rev. Jesse Jackson in 2005 after their meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa.

CHICAGO – The Rev. Jesse Jackson and Republican U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock are among leaders from Illinois attending a tribute to Nelson Mandela in South Africa.

Since Mandela’s death last week, there have been numerous memorials, vigils and church services dedicated to him, including in Chicago. The memorial today in Johannesburg is expected to draw numerous world leaders.

Jackson was in Capetown in 1990 when Mandela was released from prison after 27 years. The two men met several times over the years, including when Mandela visited Chicago three years later. Jackson said there are parallels between the struggle for civil rights in the U.S. and the dismantling of the apartheid system in South Africa. He described Mandela as having an “internal will and dignity” that seemed unshakeable.

“He was a powerful, intellectual man,” Jackson said.

Jackson was set to travel with members of his Chicago-based Rainbow PUSH Coalition, which hosted a vigil for Mandela in Chicago last week.

Schock, a third-term congressman from Peoria, said he’s leading a congressional delegation of about 20 people. His office didn’t immediately have more details on who was included.

Schock said he has great respect for Mandela.

“His example of servant leadership – voluntarily leaving office after one term – set an example of Democratic change for South Africans and the world over,” Schock said in a statement. “Nelson Mandela’s forgiveness, leadership, and class will always inspire me.”

While U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush wasn’t traveling to South Africa – he has been on leave from Congress as his wife recovers from major surgery – he planned to host a tribute Sunday at the church where he preaches. The afternoon service at Beloved Community Christian Church of God & Christ has been described as an “all Chicago celebration” of Mandela’s life.

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