Nelson Mandela, weary from a 3 1/2-week international tour, was cheered by thousands in downtown Los Angeles on Friday as he came to California to press for continued economic sanctions to end white minority rule in South Africa.
Mandela and his wife, Winnie, stood in bright sunlight on the steps of City Hall as a crowd estimated between 5,000 and 15,000 chanted "Mandela" and local officials and movie stars hailed him.
"For us in our youth, Hollywood was the stuff of dreams," Mandela, 71, told them. "In a sense, our youthful dreams are to some extent being realized, but we are particularly overjoyed to be in this city because Los Angeles is a staunch supporter of the anti-apartheid movement."
Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison, is deputy president of the African National Congress.
He made no overt reference to the use of violence, an issue that generated controversy in Washington, when he met with President Bush and rejected the President's plea that all parties reject violence.
Mandela said the finest tribute he could give to supporters of his cause "is to intensify the anti-apartheid struggle on all fronts."
He appeared, however, to try to mend fences with Bush over the disagreement.
"Having met President Bush and Secretary of State James Baker, we would like to say that they are also a part of the anti-apartheid forces of this country."
After the City Hall speech, he left to meet with another former political prisoner, Nathan Sharansky, who was jailed for eight years in the Soviet Union. The visit was arranged by the Anti-Defamation League after Jewish groups protested Mandela's praise for Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Mandela was scheduled to speak to a fund-raising dinner at the Armory Building and address a star-studded rally and concert at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before a sellout crowd of 75,000.
More than $1 million has been raised in Los Angeles for the African National Congress, organizers said.
Los Angeles was the seventh stop of a 12-day, eight-city U.S. tour scheduled to end Saturday in Oakland. Canceling the last stop was considered Friday because Mandela was fatigued, but it was decided to go ahead, said Katie Broeren of Mandela's advance team.
The U.S. visit was part of a planned six-week international tour that began June 6.
"We are on the last leg of an exhausting but exhilarating tour," Mandela said at City Hall, where he focused on thanking Americans for their support.
"We admire you, we respect you, and above all we love you," he said.
The restless crowd sometimes booed the mayor, City Council president and celebrity speakers, and chanted "Mandela" in anticipation of his talk.
"Your soul has flown free and far, kindred with the spirit of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy and many others who challenge us to be better than we are," Mayor Tom Bradley told Mandela.
"The man who's awakened the conscience of America is here," actor Gregory Peck told the throng gathered in 85-degree heat.
The crowd ranged from movie stars such as Paul Winfield to Skid Row resident Carl Famous, 44.
"Being a child of the '60s, taking part in the struggle, I think this guy is refreshing. I thought the struggle was dead," said Famous.
Winfield, who once played the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in a movie, said Mandela inspired "a new feeling of hope" in many black Americans.
Before Mandela's arrival, the council acted to further ban contracts with companies doing business in South Africa. It approved a City Charter amendment to ban such companies from making competitive bids for contracts of more than $25,000, which were exempted from a 1986 ordinance. Approval puts the measure on the November ballot.
Mandela was freed in February after spending 27 years in a South African prison for plotting sabotage to overthrow the country's minority white government.