Mandela, 95, died Thursday after a lengthy battle with a recurring lung infection. He was imprisoned for 28 years for plotting to overthrow South Africa's apartheid government, and was elected president in 1994.
In an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," Jackson said Mandela was successful in his fight against apartheid because he wasn't motivated by revenge.
"Well, he was shaped by persecution and internal will and dignity and ... he did not internalize the system. And to that extent, he was gracious because of victory. He won the battle over skin color apartheid and political right to vote and legal apartheid and international world opinion after he had a choice at that point to choose revenge or reconciliation. He chose reconciliation as a victor over that system," Jackson said.
"Because at that moment ... if he had chosen revenge, then you would have had a bloodshed. He chose to go forth by a kind of hope and not by fear. Those are choices the man made," he added.