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July 18 is the birthday of former South African President Nelson Mandela. The United Nations honors the day each year with calls to public service, celebrating Mandela's legacy as a human rights pioneer. Mandela was an early international supporter of all human rights, including LGBT rights. He supported marriage equality in South Africa as early as 1994. He advocated for anti-discrimination laws that included sexual orientation and gender identity well before the modern U.S. LGBT movement could begin talking about employment and housing rights at the federal level. More than that, his life and his leadership serve as an example for advocates everywhere.
Here are five of his memorable quotes on the fight for freedom, identity, and hope for change when everything seems the most hopeless.