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Southeast Texans mourn Nelson Mandela's passing calling him a champion for the oppressed

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BEAUMONT -

Southeast Texas State Representative Joe Deshotel's birthday fundraiser Thursday had a somber tone as a result of the passing of Nelson Mandela.

The 95-year-old former president of South Africa and anti-Apartheid leader died Thursday after a lengthy illness.

Deshotel said, "He was certainly a world leader, and certainly will be missed, an inspirational leader."

Many at Deshotel's gathering paused to reflect on the impact of Mandela's life on them.

Pastor John Adolph of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church said, "No matter how we look at him.  No matter where you are, he had a voice for people who were marginalized and oppressed, regardless of color."

Elizabeth Maxwell agrees.  The Lamar senior spent three months in South Africa in 2011.  While there she visited Robben Island, where Mandela was imprisoned for 18 of the 27 years he served behind bars.

Maxwell says Mandela's fight for freedom has made the world better for all.

She said, "It's no longer about color, race, or where you're from or what your name is, it's about the fact that you're a human and we're all similar."

Maxwell says Mandela's achievements have made him one of a handful of world leaders known to almost everyone, including children.

Marshall Middle School sixth grader Amarie Guillory said, "A great leader, to me I think he did a good thing to change the world."

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