October 7, 2022

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Secretary Antony J. Blinken Remarks to the Press – United States Department of State

2 min read

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

Johannesburg, South Africa

Hector Pieterson Memorial

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Good afternoon, everyone.  This is such an incredibly powerful, moving experience, but all the more so because to be guided by Antoinette gives it particularly special meaning.  And thank you so much for sharing with me, sharing with us – Hector’s story is one that really resonates because we have our own struggle for freedom and equality in the United States, and South Africa’s story is unique but there are also so many common elements, and that resonates powerfully.

But I think what’s so extraordinary about this museum is that it’s living history, because it’s inspiring people to see the power that young people can have to make change, to make change in all of our societies.  It’s inspiring people to learn that the past does not have to be prologue. We’re not fated to any particular (inaudible).  We can make change.  And young people, especially, are the most powerful agents of change.

And this is – there’s a photograph in the museum that went around the world, and it probably did as much to open hearts and open minds – and raise consciousness about Apartheid and about the struggle for equality and freedom – as anything.  So to see this today, to have you share it with us, thank you.

MS SITHOLE:  Thank you.  Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  It’s incredibly meaningful to me.

MS SITHOLE:  Thank you very much.  And actually, the museum is a reminder of – like, for generations to come.  Even us as adults, you’re like: we must know where we are coming from and where we are going to.  And don’t forget that the youth actually took a stand for us to live better today.  That means we’re opening the path, we’re opening the doors for youth as generations to come to take a stand in whatever problem that they have, but with responsibility.  That is very, very important.  So we are relying on our youth to really take a stand.  We are there to support and motivate them that really, we want to live in peace but not in pieces.

Thank you very much.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you all.

QUESTION:  What’s your message to the South African Government while you’re here?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  We’ll have more to say about that in the next couple of days.  I really want to keep the focus on this extraordinary place, extraordinary story.  That’s what today’s about.  And this extraordinary woman, this is someone who, despite her experience, which is – which is hard to – I think hard for any of us to wrap our minds around – who has the most open heart that I’ve found.  And that’s inspiring, too, so thank you.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary —

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you.

Thank you all very much.

More from: Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

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