Nelson Mandela’s history with U.S. presidents — in 10 images and videos

December 5, 2013

Note: We originally published this item on June 27. In light of Nelson Mandela's death, we have updated this item and are reposting it now. 

There's the lasting image of Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton looking out of the jail cell where Mandela spent years. Or the ceremony where he received the Liberty Medal in Philadelphia. And many more.

Over the years, the human rights icon, who died Thursday at age 95, met regularly with U.S. presidents. Below we look back at some of the most memorable visits:

1. In 1990, George H.W. Bush called Mandela "a man who embodies the hopes of millions" before a meeting at the White House. (Video courtesy of C-SPAN.)

2. Here is Mandela along with Bill Clinton at a 1993 ceremony in Philadelphia where Mandela was awarded the Liberty Medal.

3. Mandela returned to the White House to visit Clinton as the first black president of South Africa in 1994.


(Doug Mills/AP)

4. During Clinton's 1998 visit to South Africa, Mandela showed the U.S. president the jail cell where he spent years under incarceration by the government. Mandela spent a total of 27 years in prison.


(Rick T. Wilking/Reuters)

5. Even after Clinton left office, the two worked together. Here's Clinton and Mandela at closing ceremony of the XIV International AIDS conference in 2002.


(Cesar Rangel/AP)

6. In 2001, Mandela praised George W. Bush's actions in Afghanistan. But he was an outspoken opponent of the U.S. military effort in Iraq.

7. Bush awarded Mandela the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002, though Mandela was unable to attend the ceremony.

8. Obama met Mandela once, back when he was a senator in 2005. He filmed a 90th birthday message for Mandela in 2008.

9. First lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia visited Mandela in Johannesburg in 2011.


(Debbie Yazbek / AFP/Getty Images

10. Here's Obama in Senegal this year reflecting on how Mandela personally affected him.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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Sean Sullivan | December 5, 2013