CHARLOTTE -- Nelson Mandela inspired millions to fight for civil rights and social justice, including his own grandson, a student at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte.
Dr. Ronald Carter, the president of JCSU, said in a statement:
"We at Johnson C. Smith University are deeply saddened by the death of former President Nelson Mandela...His life’s work will stand as an example for people around the world who are committed to social justice, social change and affirming the human dignity of every individual."
JCSU student Zwelabo Mandela, Nelson Mandela's grandson, is committed to serving the city of Charlotte. He's carrying on his grandfather's legacy to help revitalize one of the city's blighted neighborhoods.
"I've been here two and a half years," said Zwelabo, in an interview with News 14 this August. "I've fallen in love with the people. I've fallen in love with the town."
In August, Zwelabo talked about a JCSU initiative to revitalize the area around campus.
"It's a juxtaposed position," he said. "As soon as you walk out the door you see the city here, and then you look to your left and there's Beatties Ford Road and it looks like it's eroding and it's really sad."
It's clear Zwelabo shares his grandfather's optimism and passion, as he echoes one of Mandela's most famous quotes: "It always seems impossible until it's done."
"We can do something really great," Zwelabo said. "Because this is a beautiful place."
Zwelabo cites Mandela as an inspiration in the work he's doing in Charlotte.
"When I'm just talking about my grandfather, removing the titles and all the work that he's done, there's basically what he's instilled in my life, and that's a hard work ethic as it pertains to education," said Zwelabo Mandela.