SPOKANE, Wash. -

Nelson Mandela's influence was felt around the world, and especially by one local professor. Gordon Jackson is a communications professor at Whitworth and was born in South Africa.

"(Mandela's death) comes as a blow to all people in South Africa as well as many around the world," Jackson said.

Professor Jackson was born into an apartheid era of South Africa. A time when the world around him was black and white and tension was at an all time high.

Then in the early 1990's Nelson Mandela was released from prison and changed the country.

"One who brought a time of reconciliation to South Africa when the country could very easily have descended into a blood bath with racial violence," Jackson said.

Jackson says Mandela was the right man at the right time, and his calm leadership could have been much different.

"He gave the country hope at a time it most needed it, when it was coming out of the apartheid era into the democratic period it's now enjoying," Jackson said.

Several times since 1994, Jackson has taken a group of Whitworth students to South Africa. Each time they've seen the transition the country has gone through first hand. They'll make the trip again next month.

"Our visit is now going to be quite different from what it would have been if Mandela was still alive," Jackson said.

Jackson says Mandela's influence, and his example, is one felt by people here in Spokane and around the globe. Now, it's up to the world to continue that role of acceptance and push forward together.

"Will they look back in the rear-view mirror and say this is what this man gave to us. We need to honor that legacy by doing better," said Jackson.