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ATLANTA -- The first Friday of December, the most decorated part of Piedmont Park is the rock that says "Free Nelson Mandela".

"It's a symbol of gratitude," said Debra Ngobo, a native of South Africa and current college student in Atlanta. "It's a symbol of commemoration."

More than a day since Mandela's passing, his Midtown monument continues to stop traffic.

"I'm proud of Atlanta for honoring the man," said resident John Hollender.

Complete coverage of Nelson Mandela's Death:
-Nelson Mandela to be buried Dec. 15
-Timeline and legacy of Nelson Mandela's life
-Local civil rights leaders remember Mandela
- GALLERY: Mandela's visit to Atlanta, local leaders react to his death

Added Ngobo, "I am touched by how people have come up here to commemorate his life ... and to see that they still recognize his greatness."

To be sure, Atlanta and Mandela have shared special moments.

11Alive's Matt Pearl spoke Friday morning with Martin Luther King III, who had a front-row seat for Mandela's historic 1990 visit to Atlanta.

"I've never quite seen anything like it," King said, "with the number of people who were there waiting with great anticipation for this great leader, who had been in jail for 27 years!"

More than two decades since that visit, Atlantans continue to come out for this great leader.

"It definitely moves me," said Tandeka Nomvete, a college student and South Africa native, "because it reminds me that I'm not the only one that's grieving.People from the US, people from China, people from wherever are grieving as well, and that's really beautiful to me."

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