Memphian recalls his 'mesmerizing' experience - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Memphian recalls his 'mesmerizing' experience of meeting Nelson Mandela

Ralpheal Johnson remembers Mandela as the kind man who shook his hand and encourage him to do his best in school. Ralpheal Johnson remembers Mandela as the kind man who shook his hand and encourage him to do his best in school.
As the world paid tribute to Mandela Tuesday, Johnson reflected back on the impact that South Africa's former president had on him. As the world paid tribute to Mandela Tuesday, Johnson reflected back on the impact that South Africa's former president had on him.

(WMC-TV) - As world leaders come together to honor Nelson Mandela, a young Memphis man looks back on the encounter he had with South Africa's former president more than a decade ago in Memphis.

History books will remember Mandela for his leadership in the worldwide movement to end apartheid and its oppressive system of discrimination in South Africa. But Ralpheal Johnson remembers Mandela as the kind man who shook his hand and encourage him to do his best in school.

"It was a great experience. I shook his hand. It was just mesmerizing," said Johnson.

Action News 5 shot the event with Johnson back in the year 2000 when Mandela came to Memphis to accept an award from the National Civil Rights Museum.

As the world paid tribute to Mandela Tuesday, Johnson reflected back on the impact that South Africa's former president had on him.

"He basically challenged us as youth to work in our communities to change our world," said Johnson.

Johnson works in a medical school in Shreveport, Louisiana. He says Mandela was a constant inspiration as he went onto college and at the United Nations where he worked with other young people on international relations projects in the United States and China.

"Just having those few minutes in his presence made a huge difference in what I decided to do in life," said Johnson.

Johnson says his meeting with Mandela lasted only a few minutes, but he says the impact Mandela had on him will last a lifetime.

Copyright 2013 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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