FACT CHECK: Viral Quote Attributed To Nelson Mandela Is Actually From Marianne Williamson

Trevor Schakohl | Legal Reporter

An image shared on Facebook claims that former South African politician Nelson Mandela said, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

Verdict: False

This quote was actually penned by 2020 presidential candidate and author Marianne Williamson in her debut book.

Fact Check:

Mandela served as South Africa’s first black president from 1994 to 1999 and helped bring an end to apartheid in the country. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for his efforts.

Though the Facebook post attributes the quote to Mandela, there is no record of him saying it. The expression appears nowhere in the Nelson Mandela Foundation archive. (RELATED: Did Nelson Mandela Say, ‘Fools Multiply When Wise Men Are Silent’?)

Furthermore, the Nelson Mandela Foundation published a statement in 2007, clarifying that the quote actually comes from Williamson, a Democratic presidential candidate.

“This quote,” reads the statement, “and especially Williamson’s closing words ‘As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others,’ is often incorrectly credited to Mr. Mandela.”

According to the Mandela Foundation, the expression — and the paragraph in which it appears — is sometimes thought to come from Mandela’s 1994 inaugural address, yet it does not appear in any of the three public addresses he gave at the time.

Williamson addressed the misattribution on her website as well, writing, “As honored as I would be had President Mandela quoted my words, indeed he did not. I have no idea where that story came from, but I am gratified that the paragraph has come to mean so much to so many people.”

The quote comes from her debut book “A Return to Love.” The book, in which Williamson shares her reflections on love and the 1976 book “A Course in Miracles,” was published in 1992 and spent 39 weeks on The New York Times best-seller list.

Trevor Schakohl

Legal Reporter
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