Monday was a federal holiday in the United States, marking civil rights giant Martin Luther King’s birthday – 89 years ago to the day. King and Nelson Mandela were contemporaries, but never met.
The South African government refused to issue King a visa in 1966. Mandela was in jail by then – arrested in 1962 for ‘conspiring to overthrow the state’, and sentenced to life imprisonment. Mandela first visited the United States (he made three trips) in June 1990, four months after his release from prison. A ticker tape parade was organized for him in New York by New York City Mayor David Dinkins.
King’s widow Coretta Scott King, attended Mandela’s inauguration as South African president in 1994.