"Ex-Gov. Ryan speaks at Chicago Mandela tribute," is the AP report filed by Sophia Tareen, via the San Francisco Chronicle.
In one of his first public appearances since being released from prison this year, former Illinois Gov. George Ryan told attendees at a memorial service Sunday that Nelson Mandela played a role in his 2003 decision to empty death row.
His nearly five-minute speech at the Chicago church where U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush preaches — mostly stories about meeting Mandela in 2000 — was met with hearty applause, particularly as Ryan described commuting the sentences of Illinois' death row inmates. The move, which put Ryan in the national spotlight, eventually led to the state abolishing the death penalty in 2011.
The event, where Mandela's portrait hung above the pulpit, was billed as the "people's tribute" and included speeches by Rush, fellow Chicago Democrat U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, Nation of Islam officials, community leaders and Chicago-based consuls general from several countries.
Ryan, 79, described his first meeting with Mandela in South Africa during a gubernatorial trade mission. The half-hour discussion at Mandela's home was "filled with emotion and inspiration," Ryan said.
Three years later, as Ryan was considering what to do — and before he concluded Illinois' capital punishment law was flawed — he received a call from Mandela. Ryan said Mandela "asked me to do what I did."
"Ryan: Mandela Inspired Death Penalty Moratorium," is a different version of the AP report, via WSIU-FM.
Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan says Nelson Mandela was instrumental in his 2003 decision to empty death row.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports, "Ex-Gov. George Ryan remembers Nelson Mandela at memorial service," by Brian Slodysko.
Eulogizing Mandela, who died earlier this month at 95, Ryan described the life lesson he took away from their 30-minute meeting at Mandela’s home.
“We basically listened to what he had to say, and those 30 minutes were filled with emotion and inspiration,” said Ryan, who said he teared up during the meeting. “He was a towering figure of courage tenacity and forgiveness. He wanted to help mankind, help his fellow man.”
But it wasn’t Ryan’s last interaction with the man credited with bringing down Apartheid.
Several years later, after Ryan had imposed a moratorium on the executions in Illinois, Mandela called him while Ryan was contemplating commuting the sentences of inmates on Death Row.
“I hadn’t decided what my decision was going to be, and Nelson Mandela called me from South Africa and asked me to do what I [eventually] did and it had an impact on my actions,” Ryan said.
Earlier news of former Illninois Governor George Ryan begins at the link.