Hillary Clinton mourns 'giant among us'

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Hillary Clinton mourned the death of Nelson Mandela, “a giant among us,” while accepting a human rights award in Washington on Friday. 

Clinton said she had always admired the contradictions Mandela lived, as a prisoner who became South Africa’s first black president. 

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“I was always struck by the extraordinary depth of his self knowledge, of his awareness of how hard it is to live a life of integrity, of service, but to combine within one’s self the contradictions that he lived with — a lawyer and a freedom fighter, a prisoner and a leader, a man of anger and forgiveness — has so captured the hearts of people not only in his own country but as we are seeing with the outpouring of response to his death around the world,” she said. 

Mandela died Thursday night at the age of 95.

Clinton said she hoped people remember the “enormous amount of hard work” it took for Mandela to grow into his role. 

Clinton made the remarks in Washington while receiving the Lantos Prize for her work to promote human rights. According to the Lantos Foundation, the prize is given to people who promote “the values of decency, dignity, freedom and justice” in the world.

“It is quite humbling for people like Madeleine Albright, my dear friend, and I to know that secretaries of State come and go, but what remains is that profound commitment to making a difference in whatever position we find ourselves,” she said. 

As secretary of State, Clinton last met with Mandela during a trip to the country in 2012. She was also part of the U.S. delegation to South Africa during Mandela’s presidential inauguration in 1994. 

While accepting the award on behalf of her work for women’s rights and Internet freedom, Clinton reiterated the point that societies and economies benefit when women’s rights are recognized. 

Albright, the first female secretary of State, also spoke. She called Clinton a “visionary” and a person who “understands that women’s progress is human progress.” She added that Clinton had shattered “almost” every glass ceiling she has come across.