ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - A Baptist minister, a newspaper publisher, and the founder of Heat Up St. Louis. What they have in common is meeting the legendary Nelson Mandela.
The current issue of the St. Louis American newspaper features an article about the new Nelson Mandela movie, "Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom", starring Idris Elba as the iconic South African leader. The owner of the newspaper, Dr. Donald Suggs, is quick to point out his encounter with Mandela included a room full of people. But the meeting still made an impression.
"Every nation, every people in the world needs these mythic figures that transcend what ordinary people, ordinary politicians do," Suggs said.
Rev. Ronald Bobo, pastor of Westside Missionary Baptist Church, was on a plane to Zimbabwe when he realized the man who had just walked past him in the aisle was Nelson Mandela.
"I was reading a book and an older man came by and touched me on the shoulder like this when he went by," Rev. Bobo said, "and I said hello but I never looked up to see who it was. I stood up when he came back toward us. I said 'Mr. Mandela, I'm so very glad to meet you. He took a picture with us and I was grinning from ear to ear, excited about the chance I had to meet Mr. Nelson Mandela. His loss was a great one but I rejoice because it was a long life, a very productive life."
Gentry Trotter, longtime publicist and the founder of Heat-Up St. Louis has two prized possessions related to Nelson Mandela. The first is a framed South African ballot from the landslide election that made Mandela the first black president of South Africa.
"It's a piece of history," Trotter said.
There's also the photo of Trotter sitting next to Mandela. In the mid-1990's Trotter was the publisher of Crisis Magazine, a national publication of the the NCAAP. In the photo, he's giving Nelson Mandela a Crisis t-shirt.
"I think Nelson Mandela with his character and his courage and his fortitude and his determination and his ability to work together pulled Africa together," Trotter said.