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Watch part of Nelson Mandela's speech at Tiger Stadium in Detroit

Nelson Mandela wearing Pistons gear given to him by some of the players at the time.

Four months after Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990 he came to Detroit.

Why Detroit?

Here's what the Rev. Jesse Jackson had to say, according to the Detroit Free Press.

“It’s the home of Joe Louis, and Nelson Mandela has always admired Joe Louis. ... He’s also always wanted to see Rosa Parks, and she is here. And the real base of the struggle is the labor unions.”

So thousands packed into Tiger Stadium to see him on June 28, 1990.

Watch part of his speech below (and here's the full version - h/t to Mike Newman):


After Detroit, Mandela headed to Los Angeles. Before he left, he took a brisk walk near the Detroit River. The Freep published an account of what that two-mile walk was like.

He wore the Detroit Pistons cap and bright blue jacket Isiah Thomas and Salley gave him the night before during a reception. The jacket was buttoned to the collar, covering his white T-shirt. His black jogging pants carried the ANC letters in white on the left leg. He wore thick white socks and black loafers. He stared skyward at the Renaissance Center as he walked west along the riverfront. He wondered whether people fished in the river, and when he got to where the Star of Detroit is docked, imagined it was an excursion boat. His route took him up 17 steps onto the plaza where he asked again for details. This time a security agent looked to reporters for help: “Anybody know what this place is called?” “Hart Plaza,” a reporter answered. Mandela walked around the fountain, along the edge of the amphitheater, and then backtracked to the hotel. As he approached the riverbank again, he mused: “I’d like to have a swim.”

Mark Brush was the station's Digital Media Director. He succumbed to a year-long battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in March 2018. He was 49 years old.