Videos: 'We Will Never Forget You,' Mandela Tells Detroiters 28 Years Ago

June 27, 2018, 9:43 PM by  Alan Stamm

Though it's not a big deal milepost such as the 25th three years ago or the 30th coming in 2020, this Thursday's annivesary of a major event in Detroit clearly is worth the video recaps below.

It involves a global hero and beloved ballpark (both gone), and a powerful event pulling nearly 50,000 people to Corktown for a historic celebration.

Nelson Mandela at Tiger Stadium: "We will never forget you." (From WDIV video)

Four months after leaving a South African prison, Nelson Mandela spoke at Tiger Stadium on his sixth stop of a eight-city national tour. He had been a political prisoner for 27 years in the country he later led as its first elected president (1994-99).

Mandela died at age 95 in December 2013.

"How do I even begin to thank you, the wonderful people of Detroit?" he says near the start of the first portion of WDIV coverage posted here. "In the face of your own problems and difficulties, you have not forgotten us. We will never forget you."

Mort Crim, co-anchoring the NBC affiliate's special with Carmen Harlan, opens by saying:

A man who has touched the hearts of people around the world is here in Detroit tonight. . . . A huge rally here at the stadium was filled with songs, speeches and lots of emotions.

Mort Crim and Carmen Harlan during the June 28, 1990 special.

A main focus of the hectic, 12-day U.S. visit was to raise money for the African National Congress, Mandela's political party. In Detroit, several benefits collected about $1.1 million.

The clips include interviews with Mayor Coleman Young and Jesse Jackson, as well as Aretha Franklin singing (27 seconds into the second video) and Stevie Wonder performing (start of third video). Mandela also met Gov. James Blanchard, Rosa Parks and Judge Damon Keith.

The third video also shows Mandela visiting the Ford Rouge Plant in Dearborn earlier that day, as covered by Jennifer Moore, WDIV business reporter at the time. The visiting dignitary wears a personalized royal blue UAW jacket and cap presented by union president Owen Bieber. 

The first installment is 13 minutes (after a half-minute AAA Michigan ad) and the others two are 14 minutes each, with no commercials at the start.

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