Delta Air Lines and the University of Georgia to present the Delta Prize for Global Understanding to Nelson Mandela

— February 27, 2007

Athens, Ga. — Delta Air Lines and the University of Georgia will present the 2007 Delta Prize for Global Understanding to Nelson Mandela, the first democratically elected president of South Africa, at Delta Headquarters in Atlanta on Wednesday, March 7. Mandela will be recognized for his leadership in ending apartheid, bringing about a peaceful transition to democracy, and helping make possible interracial understanding in South Africa.

Established in 1997 with an $890,000 endowment grant from the Delta Air Lines Foundation, the Delta Prize is administered by UGA. The prize consists of a sculpture and a $10,000 cash award.

"It is a tremendous honor for the University of Georgia and Delta Air Lines to present the 2007 Delta Prize for Global Understanding to Nelson Mandela," said UGA President Michael F. Adams. "Mr. Mandela is one of the towering figures of the 20th century, and his quiet determination during the struggle for human rights in South Africa was and continues to be an inspiration to people around the globe. He joins the pantheon of Delta Prize winners, whose collective good works have brought peace to places where there was no peace and, consequently, have made the world a better place."

Mandela spent twenty-seven years in prison for leading the African National Congress’s resistance to apartheid, during which time he clandestinely wrote his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom and provided inspiration to the millions of black people oppressed by institutionalized racism. In 1994, four years after his release, he was elected president of the new Republic of South Africa in the first non-racial democratic election the land had known.

“I saw my mission as one of preaching reconciliation, of binding the wounds of the country, of engendering trust and confidence,” said Mandela.

With his comrades, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, recipient of the 2000 Delta Prize, Mandela guided the transformation of the nation once divided by apartheid and bloodied by brutal injustices into a peaceful and prosperous South Africa.

“Nelson Mandela pursued equality, democracy, and reconciliation in face of racism, oppression, and violence – proving that, as he once stated, ‘education is the most powerful weapon for changing the world,’” said Delta CEO Gerald Grinstein. “His achievements speak to the heart of the expanded cultural and global understanding the Delta Prize was created to support.”

Derick Moyo, Deputy Chief of Mission at the South African Embassy in Washington, D.C., will receive the award on behalf of Nelson Mandela.

Gary Bertsch, director of UGA's Center for International Trade and Security, and Betty Jean Craige, director of the university's Willson Center for Humanities and Arts, will host the luncheon and award ceremony. The two co-founded the Delta Prize.

Nelson Mandela is the eighth recipient of the Delta Prize. Previous recipients include Ted Turner, founder of Cable News Network (CNN); Ambassador Gertrude Mongella, president of the Pan-African Parliament; former president of the Czech Republic Václav Havel; former United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata; former president of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev; Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa; and former president of the U.S. Jimmy Carter, his wife Rosalynn, and The Carter Center.

Nominees for the Delta Prize are solicited from around the world. Selected UGA students research the work of the nominees and prepare information for the Delta Prize board, which meets annually to choose the recipient.

Read more about Nelson Mandela.


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