EDISON - When Nelson Mandela was jailed by the South Africa government, many believe leaders there were trying to make him and his anti-apartheid message disappear.
In New Jersey, many heard his story and took up his fight.
Gov. Tom Kean divested New Jersey's holdings with companies that were doing business with South Africa, and other states, cities and countries followed suit.
"One of the things that contributed to Mandela's release was the international campaign against apartheid. New Jersey was central to that campaign," says Rutgers professor of Africana studies, Edward Ramsamy. "Thomas Kean, a Republican governor, went against Ronald Reagan's wishes and imposed sanctions.
Millions of students worldwide also fought for Mandela's freedom, including students at Rutgers.
"Rutgers University was central to that campaign. The former president, Edward Blouestein was arrested protesting apartheid."
Ramsamy says students took over the campus center on College Avenue and renamed it the Mandela Center.
New Jersey's efforts were part of worldwide success with sanctions that eventually got Mandela released from prison. He was eventually elected president of a new government.
Ramsamy says the state's strategy of getting companies to quit South Africa was a strategy employed all over the world in sanctions and embargoes. He says it is one of the rare cases where sanctions absolutely achieved their goal.
In New Jersey, decades later, Mandela continued his message of peace and justice. "There are many people who fear that it is useless and futile for us to continue talking peace and nonviolence," he said.