Nelson Mandela, Polish Solidarity leader honored by National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

CINCINNATI -- The leader of Poland's Solidarity movement that challenged communism and the grandson of the late Nelson Mandela received awards in Cincinnati on Saturday.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Lech Walesa and Mandela have been named International Freedom Conductors by The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. An awards banquet Saturday night at Duke Energy Center honored both men and their lasting legacies.


A contingent of South Africans representing Mandela, which included his great-grandson, accepted the award on his behalf.

WCPO's Sherry Hughes attended the event in downtown Cincinnati.

The men were honored for being "freedom fighters and Nobel Peace Prize winners who worked to bring true democracy to their homelands."

Walesa battled for worker rights, and growing support for the Solidarity movement led to elections in 1989 that were a landslide for Solidarity. He was elected president of newly democratic Poland in 1990.

Mandela, who died last year, was an anti-apartheid leader who went on to become president of South Africa.

The ceremony on Saturday highlighted a week of events honoring the 10-year anniversary of the Freedom Center.

Events included a "Dreamers' Summit" (highlighting the struggles of six immigrants), a family day and tours of special photographic exhibits. The week kicked of with a showing of the documentary "Walesa: Man of Hope" and a reception.

A musical performance, "Journeys: A Black Anthology of Music," was held Saturday afternoon at Washington Park in Over-the-Rhine.

On Sunday, a free gospel choir concert will be held in the center's Harriet Tubman Theater.

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