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De Blasio honors Nelson Mandela in Brooklyn service

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de blasio Credit: The Reverend Al Sharpton, Chirlane McCray and Bill de Blasio share a laugh. (Charles Eckert)

Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio celebrated Nelson Mandela’s life with song, dance and prayer Sunday at Brooklyn’s Christian Cultural Center, and said he would apply the South African leader’s values to his administration.

“I think it’s about reconciliation and I think it is about mutual respect. It’s definitionally what Mandela was about,” de Blasio said after speaking to about 3,000 at the service. “And I think in terms of this city, it means bringing people together. Working tirelessly to heal divisions, to increase communications.”

De Blasio was among political leaders who attended a tribute to the former South African president, who was remembered in a video montage with clips of his speeches, as well as with African-style dancing, drumming and songs with such lyrics as “Let peace and freedom ring.”

De Blasio was an aide in Mayor David Dinkins’ administration when Mandela visited New York City in 1990 and spoke to a packed Yankee Stadium.

His wife, Chirlane McCray, who is African-American, performed spoken-word poetry for the group Art Against Apartheid in the 1980s.

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