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Nelson Mandela's freedom was first step in increased African-U.S. trade

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Mandela in California

Nelson Mandela walked out of prison February 11, 1990 after 27 years.

He visited Oakland, California and Los Angeles in June 1990 where he addressed a crowd of 58,000 in the Oakland Coliseum and in Los Angeles he met with Tom Bradley, the first black mayor of Los Angeles. He was 71 years old at the time and he also met with former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky.

He served as deputy president for the African National Congress and came to the United States to raise money to keep the pressure of sanctions on the South African government. He raised more than $1 million during one event in Los Angeles and made stops in Detroit and Boston and Washington, D.C.

African-U.S. Commerce

Mandela’s efforts laid a foundation for events that would unfold later, like the launch of the Doing Business in Africa campaign that took place in Johannesburg in November 2012.

Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank noted at the event that, “Economic progress is clearly visible–private investments in Sub-Saharan Africa now exceed direct aid, thereby fostering long-term stability in both large and small countries.

“This is our moment to work together to ensure that we both secure Africa’s gains–and build on them. And I believe strongly that one of the ways we can do that is for U.S. businesses to invest in Africa, and to believe–like we all do here–in Africa’s bright future…We are building on this by connecting even more African businesses–including small businesses–to global markets and supply chains.

“For example, the Commerce Department recently worked with X-Chem–a black, woman-owned AGOA exporter–to link her into the Walmart/Massmart supply chain.”

Nelson Mandela’s freedom on the day he left prison, became a vehicle for greater opportunity.

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