BERKELEY -- A hotbed of anti-apartheid activism more than 20 years ago, UC Berkeley on Monday holds the first in a series of events to honor the late civil rights icon Nelson Mandela and to study his legacy.

Mandela, a black anti-apartheid activist, was imprisoned for 27 years before his release in 1990. South Africans elected him president in 1994. He died in December, at 95.

Forgiveness and reconciliation -- a hallmark of Mandela's leadership -- is the theme of Monday's public forum.

"Reconciliation is hard work, and this event will show that and honor Mandela, who asked for this work to be done," said Nancy Scheper-Hughes, a UC Berkeley professor of anthropology who assembled the speakers for this event.

Former South African President Nelson Mandela sits beside a bowl of roses during an interview with the media at his house in Qunu, rural southeastern South
Former South African President Nelson Mandela sits beside a bowl of roses during an interview with the media at his house in Qunu, rural southeastern South Africa, Friday, July 18, 2008. Mandela celebrated his 90th birthday Friday by urging the wealthy to share with the less fortunate and by saying he wished he had been able to spend more time with his family during the anti-apartheid struggle. Mandela was imprisoned for nearly three decades for his fight against apartheid. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe, Pool) ( Themba Hadebe )

Few know the power of forgiveness more fully than Linda Biehl, whose daughter Amy was a white Stanford University graduate and Fulbright scholar researching women's rights and helping with voter education in South Africa. She was pulled from her car and killed during a 1993 anti-apartheid demonstration.

One of the young men convicted in her fatal attack, Ntobeko Peni, later went to work for Biehl's organization, the Amy Biehl Foundation, which helps youths in the nation's poor townships.

Biehl and Peni will speak on Monday, as will Albie Sachs, who lost an arm and an eye in a car-bomb attack; Manfred Jacobs, a warden at Victor Verster Prison when Mandela was imprisoned there; and Davi Kopenawa, a spiritual leader and spokesman for the Yanomami Indians of Brazil, an isolated tribe that drew inspiration from Mandela.

The free event begins at 2 p.m. in the Chevron Auditorium at International House and is followed by a 6 p.m. reception.

Follow Katy Murphy at Twitter.com/katymurphy.