Born July 18, 1918, Nelson Mandela was the first black president of South Africa. Before he rose to that office, however, Mandela was an anti-apartheid hero and an advocate for equal rights and freedoms in his home country. This made him an enemy of the government, and his actions as a protester led to him being targeted. He was eventually arrested and spent almost thirty years in prison, before finally being released in 1990. He went on to negotiate the end of apartheid rule, and became president of South Africa. After his retirement, he continued to help improve conditions across the world.