In celebration of the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth and the 25th anniversary of the firstt Democratic elections in South Africa, Marriott International hosted the recent Living in the Legacy of Nelson Mandela luncheon at The Mayflower Hotel in Washington D.C.

From entertainers to dignitaries, guests from all walks of life gathered to remember the iconic figure, with Marriott board member Debra Lee welcoming all.

“We welcome you ALL here today in honor of a fearless global leader – Nelson Mandela – and we are humbled to be working side by side in the quest to make the world a more peaceful and inclusive place. At Marriott, we believe in the power of inclusion and equality across all facets of our business."

Debra Lee & Uzo Aduba

She continued, "As a board member, I lead the company’s committee to ensure excellence in diversity and inclusion Globally. #LoveTravels - the cornerstone of our purpose driven marketing program - represents our celebration and support of inclusion, equality, peace and human rights and we cannot think of anyone who embodies these values more than Nelson Mandela.”

Lee’s introduction was followed by luncheon host, actress Uzo Aduba, reciting Mandela’s 1994 South African Inauguration speech. In addition to Aduba’s stirring monologue, Graça Machel, Mandela’s widow, shared her appreciation for the continued recognition of the icon and how she uses his legacy as fuel to continue his work. Machel is an African stateswoman whose decades long professional and public life is rooted in Mozambique’s struggle for self-rule and international advocacy for women and children’s rights.

Graça Machel

Guests were also privvy to an intimate conversation between moderator Aduba and leaders representing  the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital, Mandela Rhodes Foundation and Nelson Mandela Institute, all discussing how Mandela’s worldview shaped each organization.

Uzo Aduba

Grammy-nominated duo Chloe X Halle took to the stage to honor Mandela, as did Victory Boyd and the Howard Gospel Choir. Check out photos more from the event below.

Chloe X Halle & Uzo Aduba
Debra Lee, Victory Boyd, Uzo Aduba & Chloe X Halle
Chloe X Halle
Uzo Aduba and panel