NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Empire State Building was lit up in blue, red, yellow, and green, the colors of the South African flag, on Friday night in a tribute to Nelson Mandela that was planned to last through Saturday night.
From Manhattan to Hollywood, Paris to Beijing, leaders and citizens, athletes and artists remembered Mandela on Friday, though many struggled to find words big enough to describe the man who changed the face of South Africa and inspired a continent and a world.
Flags were lowered to half-staff in many countries, a portrait of Mandela adorned the outside of France’s Foreign Ministry, mourners left flowers at a statue in London, children in South Africa ran through the streets carrying his image and the New York Stock Exchange held a minute of silence before the opening bell.
In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie ordered all flags lowered to half-staff. Flags at City Hall were lowered to half-staff as well.
At a vigil outside of the South African consulate a crowd gathered to sing native songs and memorialize Mandela.
“We suffered a lot of indignity as people of color and he was the end of the rainbow,” South African, Audrey Swartz told CBS 2’s Don Champion.
Among those outside of the consulate was Dr. James Forbes who held on to memories of meeting Mandela.
Forbes met Mandela twice in 1990 and 2005 at the Riverside Church in Manhattan.
“He does carry an aura of almost divine human presence. I mean you feel like you’re next to truth incarnated,” he said.
“He devoted his life to building a more just, equal and compassionate world, and we are all better for it,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
Friday morning, Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced the creation of the Nelson Mandela School for Social Justice, a new high school that will be located in the Boys and Girls High School campus that Mandela visited in 1990.
“Renaming the campus he visited shortly after his release from prison will forever serve as a reminder that our mandate as public servants is to provide our children with the weapons they need for a successful future and help us build a city of inclusion and opportunity that Madiba could be proud of,” Bloomberg said.