Local woman reflects on meeting Mandela during `93 Chicago visit - FOX 35 News Orlando

Local woman reflects on meeting Mandela during `93 Chicago visit

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Nelson Mandela's visit to Chicago was an inspiration for many in the Labor Movement, with an untold ripple effect in the years that followed.

For one woman, Mandela's visit provided a special opportunity to meet him and be on stage with him at a labor fundraiser.

Rosetta Daylie had a starring role as keynote speaker for Nelson Mandela's visit during the labor rally in 1993.

"I don't really know how I got picked for it," Daylie says. "It was really exciting for me. I don't usually do that kind of thing, so it was really important to be able to do that for somebody like Nelson Mandela, to be there."

As an associate director with AFSCME Local 31, she was also part of the Labor Network Against Apartheid which helped put the rally together.

She remembers meeting Mandela backstage.

"Well, we didn't have too much of a conversation," she recalls. "It was more of a hug and a feeling that we were proud and he was glad to be here. And to meet him you just felt that he was just that kind of person, it was nothing phony about him it was just a real person."

During the rally, she said Mandela was captivating.

"I was just in awe," she continues. "I think everybody in the crowd was, there was just silence in the room, You could hear a pin drop, everybody was actually listening to this man who had spent his life fighting for a cause."

Daylie actually met Mandela for the first time when he was a keynote speaker at a labor rally in Miami in 1990.

But even more special, she said, was being in Soweto South Africa to work as an election monitor when Mandela was elected President in 1994.

"And just being there, and being in his presence, being part of that was just a wonderful experience for me, something I'll never forget, It's one of the high marks in my life," Daylie tells FOX 32.

She calls Mandela the ultimate freedom fighter.

"I think he was a wonderful man, He did a wonderful thing, I'm very proud of him and may he rest in peace."

Rosetta Daylie said Mandela's visit to Chicago motivated her and other union leaders to fight for causes here.

She said she found out about Mandela's death on Thursday afternoon in an email from her son which she said left her with a feeling of sadness, yet at the same time peace for his sake.

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