Though the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa may be Mandela’s greatest legacy, one of his most important contributions was the dignity he maintained throughout his life—and his many political ordeals.

Following Mandela’s passing on December 5th, at the age of 95, it’s important to remember that his fight for equality was not easily won. And it’s a battle that forced him to live more than a quarter of his life in confinement. Yet Mandela never let his personal challenges—be it a divorce, health crisis, or scuffle with the law—adulterate his vision of equality. Whereas lesser, more impressionable men may have let the atrocities of a life spent in prison paint the path of their future, Mandela always put the good of the people before his personal comfort. And did it with strength, conviction, an unwavering moral compass, and great dignity.