JOHN SHATTUCK: Good evening and welcome to the John F. Kennedy Library. I’m John Shattuck, the CEO of the Kennedy Library Foundation. And on behalf of myself, our Board of Directors, many of whom are here tonight, and our Library Director, Tom Putnam, I want to thank all of you for coming from neighborhoods and communities across our cities, no doubt battling the Red Sox traffic on the way, to hear from the distinguished leaders on our stage.
Some of you may remember that extraordinary evening 17 years ago, when Nelson Mandela came to the Kennedy Library after his release from Robben Island Prison. Tonight we will hear from three heroes of that great struggle waged by President Mandela and countless others over many decades for freedom and justice in South Africa. We are proud to honor each of our guests as Distinguished Visitors to President Kennedy’s Library.
I want to thank the generous supporters of our Distinguished Visitor program: Boston Capital, the Corcoran Jennison companies, and Raytheon, along with our lead forum sponsor Bank of America, as well as the Lowell Institute, the Boston Foundation, and our media sponsors, the Boston Globe, NECN, and WBUR, which broadcasts all of these forums on Sunday evenings.
Forty-one years ago, a young United States Senator visited South Africa. In his speeches on that trip, the Senator echoed a call that had been sounded by his brother five years earlier in his Inaugural Address-- President Kennedy’s famous call for a global alliance to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.
And at the University of Capetown on June 4, 1966, Robert Kennedy delivered one of his most famous speeches, riveting a vast student audience in a country that was in the grip of the totalitarian evil of apartheid. Let’s listen to a portion of that speech in this audio clip from the archives of the Kennedy Library.
JOHN SHATTUCK: Robert Kennedy had been invited to deliver that speech by the National Union of South African Students. Five days before the Senator was due to arrive in South Africa, the president of the student union was banned by the government for anti-apartheid advocacy, so it fell to the vice president to take over his duties. When Robert Kennedy arrived in Cape Town, the situation faced by that young student leader was filled with tension. “The banning terrified me,” she later told Robert Kennedy’s biographer. “I was 20 years old, thinking about the threat of no work, no passport, and no university.” She was on stage when Robert Kennedy delivered his speech and then traveled with him all over South Africa, including his visits to Soweto and other black townships, and of course she’s here with us tonight, our own Chief Justice of Massachusetts, Margaret Marshall.
In the 41 years since Robert Kennedy visited South Africa, the country, of course, has been transformed, and the three distinguished speakers on our stage, in different ways, have played a key part in that transformation. Let me say that I’m sure this is the first time the stage of the Kennedy Library has ever been graced simultaneously by an Archbishop, a Chief Prosecutor, and a Chief Justice. And I want to thank each of you by saying that it’s an enormous honor to have you, personally, and with those extraordinary titles. Bishop Tutu, you are one of the greatest human rights heroes of our time. During the long--
During those long years that Nelson Mandela was in prison, you constantly and courageously spoke out against the apartheid regime. When you were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1984, you had come to represent, in the words of the Nobel Committee, “all the individuals and groups in South Africa who, with their concern for human dignity, fraternity, and democracy, incite the admiration of the world.”
More than any other person during this time, Archbishop Tutu, through his tireless campaigning, shined a global spotlight on the evils of apartheid and mobilized the world to confront its enforcers. I first met him when he came to Harvard in the 1980s to urge the university to begin divesting its South African stocks. And he was indeed very persistent on that subject, as he should have been.
A decade later, the apartheid regime had fallen and Nelson Mandela had been elected president. Bishop Tutu created the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the institution that I believe more than any other came to symbolize the extraordinary, non-violent revolution that was sweeping the country. As the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights, I was privileged to be invited to observe the Commission’s work in its early hearings, and I watched in awe as Bishop Tutu transformed high school gymnasiums and municipal auditoriums into centers of truth and justice and reconciliation across the new South Africa.
I’ve known and admired Richard Goldstone since 1994, when I was involved in his appointment as the first Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. Justice Goldstone had been appointed by President Mandela to the Constitutional Court of South Africa, and like Bishop Tutu, he was instrumental in shaping the non-violent course of the South African revolution. He made his mark as the chair of the national commission established in 1991 to investigate political violence and intimidation. It became known as the Goldstone Commission, not surprisingly. It played a crucial role in the transformation of South Africa by condemning the violence of the apartheid regime, and in many ways, it paved the way for South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Justice Goldstone, you have been an extraordinary voice for justice in your own country and around the world, and it was a great privilege to work with you during that struggle for justice in Rwanda and Bosnia.
Margaret Marshall, our distinguished Chief Justice, first came to the United States as an American Field Service high school exchange student in 1962. The civil rights movement was in full force, and when she returned to South Africa to enter university a year later, she joined the anti-apartheid student movement. Over the next five years, she became a leader in the movement, and served as president of the National Union of South African students.
In 1968, she came back to the United States to attend law school and remained to become a U.S. citizen, a distinguished lawyer, and a human rights advocate. In the early 1990s, I had the privilege of serving with her as a colleague and fellow vice president at Harvard.
She was appointed to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in 1996, and was named Chief Justice in 1999, where she has been a leader on the rule of law and a champion of the rights of all citizens.
And we are very honored to have as the moderator of tonight’s forum one of the most powerful and distinguished academic voices in America. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is the W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of Humanities at Harvard, and Director the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute. He is general editor of the monumental Norton Anthology of African American Literature, and co-editor of the even more monumental work Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience. Professor Gates has been showered with honors, including a MacArthur Genius Award and scores of honorary degrees, and Time Magazine in 1997 named him one of the 25 most influential Americans.
So please join me in welcoming to the stage of the Kennedy Library for a discussion, following which we will take written questions from the audience, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Justice Richard Goldstone, Chief Justice Margaret Marshall, and Professor Henry Louis Gates.
HENRY LOUS GATES, JR: Thank you, John. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. Isn’t this amazing? I can’t believe it. I mean, give it up for these three people. Give it up! [applause]
John asked me a few months ago, would I find the time to moderate? I said, “Are you kidding? I would cancel anything in order to be here.” I’ve been by Archbishop Tutu’s house in Soweto, but he wasn’t home. But I’d never had the pleasure of meeting him, and it’s just a great honor, lady and gentlemen, for me to be here, and ladies and gentlemen.
So this is our format: we are going to have a conversation, about an hour. And you all, as John said, will write written questions, and they will adjudicate among your various questions and present them. I’m going to ask each person a specific question. We’ll start with Justice Marshall and then go around, do that a couple of times. I’ll ask them all a general question, and then we’ll open it up, okay? That’s our format.
MARGARET MARSHALL: You haven’t told them we don’t know the questions yet.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: They don’t know the questions. They don’t know the questions. Except for Justice Marshall, who insisted that I not tell anybody that.
Justice Marshall, you made history in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as the first woman chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court, and history in the United States as the author of Goodridge v. Department of Health, the decision that legalized gay marriage in the Commonwealth.
In full disclosure, you and I go back a long way, at least to 1991, when I arrived at Harvard University. Even further, unbeknownst to you and to him, your husband, the former New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis, was held up to me by my mentor at Yale, John Morton Blum, the great American historian, as a journalist whose statute to which I could aspire. And he’s been a hero of mine since my junior year. I’d read his syndicated columns in the Cumberland, Maryland, newspaper.
MARGARET MARSHALL: When was that?
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: Junior year, 1967.
MARGARET MARSHALL: Oh, you’ve known him longer than I have. [laughter]
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: Yes, but you know him better than I do.
MARGARET MARSHALL: I’m not so sure.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: When Nelson Mandela came to Harvard University, our dear president, Neil Rudenstine, selected the two of us to speak on that glorious occasion. So ladies and gentlemen, the Chief Justice and I go back a long way. But that said, Justice Marshall, do you ever imagine what your career would have been had you stayed in South Africa? And what contributions might you have made to the new South Africa’s judicial system on the ground? And what contributions, possibly, can you make to it from here?
MARGARET MARSHALL: I knew I hadn’t anticipated the questions. People stay and people leave, and I think that for those of us who left, there’s an enormous amount of pain, and for the people who stayed, there was even greater pain. The decision has never been an easy one for any people who move anywhere. I can’t help listening to Senator Kennedy’s words, Senator Robert Kennedy’s words, without a feeling of, “Well, what would have happened?” That said, the United States is a great country, and I have been able to do things in this country that I think I would not have been able to do in South Africa, understanding the enormous privileges of being white.
The journey has been a long and difficult one, and of course, when President Mandela and all of the people who have been incarcerated for so long were released from South Africa, there was an opportunity to return. But this is my home. But I could not have done the things that I’ve done in this country were it not for my experiences in South Africa.
The time of Senator Kennedy’s speech, as I’ve said on a number of occasions, was a peculiarly mean and difficult time in South Africa. The mid-1960s had followed immediately upon the banning of all of the major political parties: the Africa National Congress, the Pan-African Congress, the Communist Party. Most of the leaders were either in prison, banned, in exile. There was a soreness about everything. In looking up the Archbishop’s resume, I reminded myself that there had never been a black Anglican bishop in South Africa, and there had never been a black Archbishop in South Africa. It was many years before that was to happen.
The decision to leave was difficult, and I certainly didn’t think I was leaving forever. And if you had told me 1) that I would be in the United States, 2) that I would be a lawyer-- I never thought I’d be a lawyer, 3) that I would be a justice, and 4) that I would be the chief justice of the oldest court in the United States, I would not have believed it.
What contributions can one make? I think the great struggle for human freedom is an international struggle, and all that is asked of each of us is that we do what we can wherever we happen to be. Many struggles have been carried out all over the world.
South Africa, of course, in many ways-- I mean, how many people know personally two Nobel Peace Prize winners, Archbishop Tutu and the great Chief Justice Albert Lutuli, another Nobel Peace Prize winner from South Africa? It’s a difficult question, as you can hear, yes, I’m sliding all over the place. But I hope in some ways, that in some small sense, that I’ve been able to make a difference.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: Thank you for your honesty. You’ve made an enormous difference, an enormous difference. [applause] And you have an enormous amount of courage on the bench and off the bench.
Justice Goldstone, you stayed in South Africa, serving for nine years as a justice on the Constitutional Court. And you’ve become renowned for your work in international human rights in hot spots such as the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Kosovo, Iraq, Argentina, not to mention South Africa itself.
My first question for you is about the criminal and civil justice systems in post-apartheid South Africa. How have they and the legal profession itself changed since the end of apartheid, and does justice prevail equally for blacks and whites since the end of apartheid?
RICHARD GOLDSTONE: Well, we’re in the middle of a huge transformation in South Africa. At the end of apartheid, in 1994, there were approximately 200 Superior Court judges in our country. All but two were white, and all but about three or four were men. And I always refer to it as a “pale, male bench.”
MARGARET MARSHALL: We know something about that.
RICHARD GOLDSTONE: So our judiciary didn’t represent the true majorities in our country: black South Africans and women. And that had to be transformed. And it wasn’t easy, for a number of reasons. First, the apartheid had made it difficult for black lawyers to emerge. They did, and there were a few hundred, but they were a very small proportion of the lawyers in our country. They didn’t qualify for the bench during the apartheid era. There were not many women senior practitioners who were ready to be appointed to the bench because of gender discrimination in our country. And hardly any black women, because they suffered both ways.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: Double discrimination.
RICHARD GOLDSTONE: Double whammy. And it was realized by President Mandela and his government, and the judges themselves, that that had to change. One of the difficulties was that young black lawyers were offered tremendous positions in the private sector. I mean who could blame them for giving up the opportunity of earning a good living rather than becoming judges and accepting second-best and even third-best in the financial area? So there was huge competition for young black lawyers immediately, and still today in the post-apartheid South Africa.
But that notwithstanding, we’ve done pretty well. About 40% of the judiciary is now black, and about 36% of the judiciary is now women, female. That’s in a period of 13 years. We have the first ever black African Chief Justice, Pius Langa, Deputy Chief Justice, Dikgang Moseneke, wonderful black lawyer. The Constitutional Court, our highest court, when it began in 1994, of the original 11 justices, we were seven white and four black, two women. Today, I’m happy to say, it consists of the same 11 number. Eight black, three white, three women. Not enough women, but the racial bias has been reversed.
As far as justice is concerned, we don’t have equal justice yet. The economics of our society don’t allow it. Many, many impecunious black accused don’t have adequate representation. We can’t afford the legal aid that we need. But steps are being taken, and that’s changing. I think it’s really important that the number of black judges on the bench make a difference to our society. It’s a very exciting change. We’re certainly not there yet, but I think we’re getting there pretty quickly.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: Fair enough. Thank you. Archbishop Tutu. [applause]
Archbishop Tutu, as the bishop of Johannesburg, you won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, for your work against apartheid. And since then, you’ve had a place on the world stage as a voice of reason, peace, reconciliation. But you’ve remained grounded in the reality of the new South Africa as well.
So my first question to you is of a somewhat local nature: do you think South Africa is ready for 2010, when it hosts the World Cup? I ask because so much of the news we hear in the West coming out of South Africa today is about crime and unrest, of course. Two weeks ago there was the carjacking and murder of Lucky Dube, and you know Lucky Dube, South Africa’s most famous reggae singer, an international star--
MARGARET MARSHALL: He comes from my hometown.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: I did not know that, from Margie’s home, too. And even a national symbol. And just today in the New York Times, as I’m sure you all saw, we were treated to a bemused “Johannesburg Journal” about the chaotic system of obtaining a driver’s license in South Africa. New stadiums and hotels are being built, the airport’s being expanded. But are these big tourism efforts enough to counteract the high crime advisories and warnings for caution that Western governments regularly issue? And the bigger question, Archbishop, of course, is what can be done to make South Africa safer, not just for foreign tourists, but for its own good, hard-working citizens?
DESMOND TUTU: Yeah. Thank you, it’s wonderful to be here. There are days when I am nice, and there are days where I am not so nice. I have to work out how I should answer. [laughter] I’ve sometimes been amazed at how Westerners can get quite hoitytoity. [laughter, applause] Talked out over all the wonderful things they’ve been able to do, and then zero in on a country that has been free for 13 years--
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: Thirteen only--
DESMOND TUTU: Thirteen years. And now when I am not so friendly, [laughter] I say, “Well, what did Katrina show of this country?”
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: That’s right. Racism.
DESMOND TUTU: And I can also say if I wanted to write about Boston, I could write about the violence affecting all these sorts coming away from playing basketball. I could do that, but I won’t. [laughter] I am, I think, we all are greatly exercised by the things that you mention. And yet we also have to be realistic and say, isn’t it incredible that given our incidents that we should have the kind of stability we have in South Africa, you know?
A few years ago, when I became Archbishop, it was a crime, a crime, for me, newly elected Archbishop, to live in my official residence, because my official residence was in a white area, so-called. Now you can live anywhere that you can afford.
I think a lot of us are pained by the fact that there is so much violence, although I think too that we don’t help our own case in that we have tended to sensationalize it. If you read a South African newspaper, and there’s been a hijacking, as sure as anything it’s going to be on the front page. It’s going to be banner headlines, something that your papers would tend to put on page five or six is on our front page. And that builds up a particular kind of atmosphere. But we’ve also got to be saying, you know, we’re supposed to make up for the deficits of apartheid. Apartheid damaged not just South Africa, but it damaged the front line states as well.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: Absolutely.
DESMOND TUTU: And many of us have muted-- We’ve said, Western Europe was on its knees after World War II. And this country showed an incredible--
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: Generosity.
DESMOND TUTU: Generosity with the Marshall Plan, and we’re saying that apartheid has devastated Southern Africa in much the same kind of way, and a good case could be made for a kind of Marshall Plan. So you have a government, therefore, that is trying to make up: it’s in education, it’s in health, it’s in housing. I mean, you know the apartheid government, quite deliberately, would not build houses for blacks in what they called white South Africa.
So it’s not surprising now that when influx control has gone, you get this influx of people, and a horrendous feature of our country is the shacks, the so-called informal settlements, that there is a huge deficit in housing. You have a government that is trying to make up for that deficit, but it also is having to deal with the contemporary needs of its people. And I would say we haven’t-- Let me put it this way, things could have been a great deal better, but certainly we have been a great deal worse.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: Yes. Fair enough. [applause] Thank you, Archbishop. Justice Marshall--
MARGARET MARSHALL: Can I just add a--
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: You may--
MARGARET MARSHALL: --add a coda to that? At the height of the busing crisis in Boston, I used to get letters from my mother in South Africa, saying, “Are you sure it is safe to live in Boston?” And I think part of that is of course what she heard about Boston was the violence in Boston.
But I do want to follow up the Archbishop’s comment. It pains me a great deal, because you heard how much I love this country. But I get asked so many questions about the future of South Africa that seem to me to presume that of course the majority of the government, the majority of the people, happen to be blacks, that there’s an assumption that they cannot operate a modern, industrial, highly sophisticated state.
Now how do I pinpoint that? First of all, if I see one more report talking about the black majority government-- We have a majority government, we don’t talk about how in the United States we have a white majority government, although maybe we should begin to do that too. We have a majority government. [applause]
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: Some of us do. [laughter]
MARGARET MARSHALL: A democratic government. The Archbishop talked about the enormous injustices in South Africa. South Africa is one of the wealthiest, richest-- It has more minerals and wealth, all of which is concentrated in the hands of a very, very, very small population. We have a hard time with the dissolution of wealth in this country, and we’ve been doing it for hundreds of years.
I must say my phone rings several times a semester from some worried parent who says, “My child has been offered a scholarship or fellowship to go and work for Justice Goldstone at the Constitutional Court, or to go and be an intern for the Archbishop in Cape Town. Is it safe to send my child?” Well of course that’s an enormous responsibility for me. But basically, I say, “Send your child.” You have to be careful. You shouldn’t be walking around any city at four o’clock in the morning, and you shouldn’t be jogging along the Charles River, and so my sense is-- Of course there are many adjustment problems, but can the Games come off? You bet they can come off. I can say that; I’m not even there.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: Well, Justice Marshall, as a student at Wits, you led the student organization, as John said, the National Union of South African Students. A powerful force of anti-apartheid activism in the ‘60s. In fact, your leadership made you a target of the opposing side. And the threats against you propelled, in part, your migration to the United States.
About your opposition to apartheid, you said, “There was no access to justice in South Africa. There were a few courageous barristers who agreed to represent people charged with political crimes. But,” you continued, “by and large, if you were a black South African, you had no justice. The death penalty continuism was imposed in vastly disproportionate numbers. Many of the offenses were applicable to black South Africans only.”
Now the issue of fairness in sentencing, and disproportionate numbers of black men on death row in the United States, are questions that have been very much before us. So I ask you: what connections do you see between this systemic inequality in the old South African judicial system and many of the unwritten inequalities that still exist in the American judicial system?
MARGARET MARSHALL: I would say that one of the most significant challenges facing this society, of which certainly the imposition of the death penalty is its most extreme form, but of the vast incarceration rates for extraordinarily long periods of time, of populations in this country, we are so far afield of most countries we think of as peers, in terms of incarceration rates. And by far, the greatest impact of those incarcerations rates, as I don’t have to tell this audience, falls on young black men who in disproportionate numbers are incarcerated.
Let me give you just one example, in terms of sentencing in Massachusetts, which doesn’t have the death penalty, so I am not confronted with the kinds of issues that confront my colleagues in other states and in the federal courts. We have, as you know, as part of our sentencing in drug cases enhanced sentences for arrests, indictments where somebody is dealing or selling drugs within a school zone. It is not possible to be outside a school zone in the city of Boston. It is quite easy to be outside a school zone in Newton or Wellesley or Woburn, and I’m talking here to a Massachusetts audience, but I’m essentially talking about the suburbs of Boston and out and beyond.
The Sentencing Commission in Massachusetts has shown, without a doubt, holding every other statistic for age, for crime, for the number of crimes committed, for criminal history, that the greatest impact of that falls on young black males.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: Without a doubt.
MARGARET MARSHALL: Without a doubt. If we were simply to amend that piece of the sentencing rules, we would most immediately have an impact on the racial disparity of who’s being incarcerated and for how long. Now why? That is maybe the point of your question. Well first of all, we take the vote away from people who are incarcerated. And second of all, let me answer this way, and again it’s to this audience.
I was having a conversation a couple of years ago with a friend. Actually, a prosecutor, white male. We were talking about how to get to Martha’s Vineyard on a hot Friday afternoon when the Southeast Expressway is bumper to bumper.
I said, “I just cut through Blue Hill Avenue.” Blue Hill Avenue, for our guests, runs right down through the center of Dorchester and Roxbury, the black areas of Boston. And he looked at me and he said, “It’s not safe for you to drive down Blue Hill Avenue.” When I was in South Africa, I was told that it wasn’t safe to drive into Soweto. So there are some parallels. Does that mean that people are deliberately malicious? No, I think there is what I refer to as anthropological blindness. What you don’t see, you don’t care about. Now how don’t you see? How can you not see? Of course you can see; the question is: are you willing to see?
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: Yes.
MARGARET MARSHALL: And how you help people to see, I think, is one of the greatest challenges. I lived in South Africa and I know this is true for Justice Goldstone, that until I went to university, I lived in a tiny village, Newcastle, surrounded by black South Africans. And yet I knew nothing about their lives. One of the things I find most interesting is to meet black South Africans who are my age who come from the same village. We talk about the same people, the person who ran the general store, who operated the shoe…
It’s painful, because people that I knew and loved as my uncles and… The view is very different from the other side. I think that we in the United States have much to learn, much to learn from what happened in South Africa, and the one thing we can learn is how do you see when it’s right in front of you?
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: Absolutely. Half of all male prisoners, Archbishop, in the United States are black. Half of the two million prisoners are black, or one million black men. Seventy percent of all black children are born out of wedlock in the United States. And we don’t see this. We don’t see the class divide even within the African American community.
We can get a rally of black political leaders for an instance of anti-black racism in two seconds. But to get a rally-- Can you imagine Jesse or Al Sharpton getting a rally to protest the out of wedlock birthrate in the United States? Or the incarceration rate? It just doesn’t sell. It just doesn’t sell, and we don’t see it and we’re not doing very much to clean up our own house.
Justice Goldstone, South Africa is now in the middle of a contentious succession battle. Thabo Mbeki, swearing to step down after the second term ends in 2009, but trying to retain control of the ANC, which seems increasingly unlikely at this point, from what I understand at least, as an outsider. He is embroiled in scandals involving Jacob Zuma, his chief rival for ANC leadership and a rival for the candidacy. The police commissioner and the president of Interpol, Jackie Selebi, and the possibly politically-motivated dismissal of South Africa’s top prosecutor, Vusi Pikoli. What I’d like you to comment on, is how you think the young nascent democracy of South Africa will weather this succession storm. Is South African democracy in danger of destabilization? Or are there checks in place, constitutional checks, that ensure stability and continuity?
RICHARD GOLDSTONE: Well, I hesitate to comment on the rights and wrongs of the issues you’ve raised. They’re obviously of concern. They are of concern to all South Africans, and they are tremendously controversial. But that’s a good thing, and that’s part of what a democracy is about, that these issues are debated openly in the media. Judges, including the chief justice, are questioned on some of these issues involving the allegations made against one of our senior judges, the chief justice of the Cape Provincial Supreme Court. But I’m confident that we’ll weather these and other storms because we have embraced democracy.
There is open discussion. We do have an absolutely free media. It’s criticized, as the media is in all democracies, but we have a good constitution. And what gives me confidence too is that it was the constitution that was predominantly written by and for the African National Congress. It’s a constitution that has been embraced by the majority of our people. That’s one of the reasons I’ve always been a little bit bemused at this fear that some, particularly some white South Africans, have about the African National Congress giving a two-thirds majority. Because they would again be entitled easily to amend the constitution. They wanted two-thirds majority, and there haven’t been any fundamental amendments to the constitution.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: That’s right.
RICHARD GOLDSTONE: I don’t believe there are going to be, on any fundamental issues. As long as the democracy is working, I think we’re going to have problems. Every country has problems, I’ll even tell you that. But I feel really confident that we are going to weather it because we have a constitution that’s respected. Respected by the government, respected by the legislature, and it’s really strictly enforced by the judges.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: I’d hoped that you would answer in that way. Archbishop Tutu: following on the question addressed by Justice Goldstone, Archbishop, I have questions about two African leaders. Thabo Mbeki, and Zimbabwe’s apparently immovable force, Robert Mugabe.
First, can you assess Mbeki’s legacy as president? In the United States, Mbeki’s political scandals are known only to close followers of African news. Here he is best known for what was represented as his stubborn, stubborn rejection of western science’s claims about HIV/AIDS virus. He’s done a great job with the South African economy, it seems to this outsider. What do you make of him at home from the ground up?
And for Mugabe, why are other African leaders so apparently timid in their public criticism of Mugabe? What he is doing to the people of Zimbabwe seems to fly in the face of the principled form of government called for by groups such as the new Partnership for Africa’s Development.
DESMOND TUTU: I think many of us would share your chagrin, your dismay at the peculiar views that our president had with regard to HIV and AIDS. And I think that many of us would also say that there are people who have died who shouldn’t have died. If we would have more orthodox, more conventional policy in place…
Mercifully now, the president has handed over control of that side of their policies to a body that is headed by the deputy president. She’s a very smart, very personable, objective individual, and the policies that they have put in place are supported for instance by a very activist group, the Treatment Action Committee, who for a very long time were knocking heads with government. So we have turned a corner there.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: Thank God.
DESMOND TUTU: Thank God, yes. But still does not make up for the mess-up we made before this new policy was in place. Thabo? He had a very difficult act to follow. [laughter] To succeed Nelson Mandela, gee whiz, [laughter] is the last thing anyone would want on their plate, I think.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: It’s like following you as Archbishop. [laughter]
DESMOND TUTU: I was very thrilled when, very soon after Thabo took over, people said, “How does it feel to try to fill the shoes of a colossus such as Nelson Mandela?” And he was very good in his response. He said, “What? He has such ugly shoes.”
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: That is a great answer.
DESMOND TUTU: And I thought he was going to move in that kind of direction. He’s been important for many of the peace initiatives on the continent. We’ve got to give him credit for that. I think he had a big problem with President Mugabe. President Mugabe was our star turn for a very, very long time. I think in many ways, deservedly so. Very debonair, very well-spoken. Quite erudite, actually.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: And a staunch freedom fighter.
DESMOND TUTU: Yeah! And you see, it’s Africa. President Mugabe possibly would be able to handle, I’m not sure that he did, would handle the fact that an old man comes out of jail, and when previously he used to be center stage.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: Yes.
DESMOND TUTU: The media, with no subtlety at all, dumped him like he was a hot potato, and “Oh, death to this old man.” Now you got to be a very strong human being to deal with that. I don’t know that it didn’t unhinge him.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: Hmm.
DESMOND TUTU: So Thabo comes and he’s younger. He’s really had a tough road to hoe, because President Mugabe could say, “I’m a freedom fighter, I’ve been in jail.” Thabo has not been in jail, so he had very, very, many disadvantages. But the age thing was quite crucial as well. President Mugabe could dismiss him--
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: “Small boy.”
DESMOND TUTU: Yeah. “You are just a whipper-snapper.” So there was that inhibition. I did speak to him about-- There was a time when Time Magazine said he was one of the hundred most influential people. And on that particular occasion, I said to him, “You know, you just scored an A, had it not been for two things.” And before I said it, he said, “Yes. AIDS and Zimbabwe.” He was aware of this. I again have been deeply distressed at the fact that African leaders have not been more forthright in confronting President Mugabe. But again, they have the inhibition of-- If Westerners come along and pontificate about what you should be doing, it doesn’t sit easily with people.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: It seems like neocolonialism.
DESMOND TUTU: You’re taking your orders from those guys again. And so they bunch up together and say, “We have a common enemy.” I have been saying that we have probably got to look at something that tourists would not be too happy about. I’ve been saying that we probably ought to be looking at the possibility of resort lending for President Mugabe. Now I know that they really get hot under the collar about impunity and all of that kind of—And I say, “Well, you know, in some of these things, it’s not a question of a choice between right and wrong, it is a choice between two evils. Which is the lesser: letting this guy go, or letting him continue and have him do what he’s doing to the people?” It is horrendous!
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: It is horrendous. It is a blight on the face of the continent.
DESMOND TUTU: Oh.
RICHARD GOLDSTONE: May I just add one brush on what the Archbishop has said? I’m disappointed that President Mbeki hasn’t spoken out, for the last number of years, strongly against what has happened in Zimbabwe. [applause] Let me say that the reason is not because I believe that it would have made a difference in Zimbabwe. Probably not. I think he owed it to our own nation to say, “This is not the way things should be done.”
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: Yes.
RICHARD GOLDSTONE: “This is not democratic, this is not the way we are going to go.” I think that’s a lost opportunity.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: Thank you. I have one more question for each, and then we will open it up to your written questions here. Justice Marshall, good African leadership is in the news. Yesterday, in fact, it was announced that Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, of Liberia, the first woman elected president of an African nation, was awarded the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom. [applause] Last week, Justice Marshall, the former president of Mozambique, Joaquim Chissano, well-known for running a good ship, stepping down from office in a timely fashion, won the inaugural $5 million Mo Ibrahim Award for African Leadership.
Justice Marshall, do you think that such a prize can encourage other leaders on the continent to do their jobs according to the rule of law? [laughter] And to buck the trend of clinging to the trappings of power? Or, as one critic of the prize suggested in the lively, very lively South African press - which I happen to love - this past weekend, is the Mo Ibrahim Prize essentially a bribe to leaders of any moral stature to serve the best interests of their people?
I am particularly interested in your thoughts on this, Justice Marshall, because of your thinking that a well-functioning court needs to follow business-model principles, an intriguing idea from you, my friend. What do you think of the effects of this kind of rewards system, as it were, on African leadership?
MARGARET MARSHALL: You must have spoken to my husband. Of course the problem that I have in my home is that every time I take a job, I cut my pay by 80%. I think if you told us there was a $5 million prize-- I have no idea, Skip. I do want to follow up though, on some of the discussions about South Africa.
Maybe because I am a United States citizen, I go back to the country of my birth, which was so evil, so evil. I see the vibrant political leadership. I mean, you ask about Thabo Mbeki. Many people here know what a great admirer I am of John Adams. John Adams followed George Washington. He was despised. The only building named after John Adams is our John Adams Courthouse. This is in the United States of America, and oh, by the way--
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: That’s cold, that’s cold.
MARGARET MARSHALL: He wrote this great constitution on which the United States Constitution is based, and having the separation of powers, and having independent judges, and having a charter of rights. So, for me, South Africa is just miraculous. I mean this is in 15 years!
The other thing I want to say about Richard, the comment about what makes it function. Richard touched upon the fact that the executive branch and the legislative branch, in these very difficult times, are actually obeying court orders. Do not take that for granted, people. Do not take that for granted. I have wonderful comments from President Mandela, but the first time that Justice Goldstone and his colleagues-- I mean, who were these eleven people? How many white boys were there on that court, Richard? Seven?
You know, they hand-placed on Mandela, a stunning political defeat to the African National Congress. President Mandela, instead of doing what we would think any “mutable” democracy-- Think about what’s happening in some of the other countries in Eastern Europe and so on that don’t always obey judges orders. President Mandela steps out onto the steps of Parliament and he says, “Today is a great day for South Africa. The Constitutional Court has spoken. We can all be proud of the Constitutional Court.” And he sets the country on a path. President Mbeki, whatever you may think about his views on HIV, when the Constitutional Court issued an order saying you must distribute certain drugs to pregnant women who had AIDS--
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: He did it.
MARGARET MARSHALL: He obeyed the order. Now, excuse me. Have any of you heard Justice Wyatt talk about what the original reaction was when the United States Supreme Court started talking? I mean, excuse me. It took a long time before people in the United States were obeying what the United States Supreme Court said.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: Absolutely.
MARGARET MARSHALL: There are whole Cherokee nations that would have a view about that. The people in Brown vs. Board of Education. This is a fabulous success, an absolutely fabulous success and it didn’t come easily.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: No, it didn’t.
MARGARET MARSHALL: And you couldn’t take it for granted. It is a remarkable society.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: I think it is a miracle.
MARGARET MARSHALL: Well, it’s not a miracle in the sense-- I mean, it may be. Forgive me, Archbishop, maybe it is a miracle, I don’t know. [laughter] It was people of vision. I was looking today at the Freedom Charter, which is the basic, well, not the basic in 1955-- there has been a commitment and understanding of the importance of equality under the law. Equal treatment in South Africa, which is the foundation building block.
It is a wonderful constitution, it is a fabulous Constitutional Court, it has fabulously young lawyers. If you go to South Africa, for Heaven’s sake, go and visit the Constitutional Court and watch and see what is happening. It is very exciting. So I can’t help but say-- I don’t know about $5 million prizes, but I can say that this is a fabulous, fabulous story.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: Oh, but I share your faith in the rule of law in South Africa, and I admire it. Two more questions and we’ll ask your questions. Justice Goldstone, I have a question for you based on a recent administrative, not legal, decision by Justice Marshall.
Justice Marshall supports the creation of a Massachusetts Bar Association Committee to develop plain English jury instructions in several cases because, as she puts it, “the English language should not be a barrier to justice.” What a quaint idea, Justice Marshall. [laughter and applause] How is the immense linguistic diversity in South Africa, with its 11 equally, officially recognized languages, navigated by the justice system?
RICHARD GOLDSTONE: Well, it was a Solomonic decision. South Africa was faced with very difficult choices with regard for language. Our official languages, until the end of apartheid, were two, the two white languages: Afrikaans and English. None of the nine predominant black languages were recognized at all. The choice was: what’s our official language? If we follow the other former British colonies, we would have chosen English. That’s the official language of most of the former British colonies in Africa, in our own region, in Ghana, in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and so on. And they all drive on the wrong side of the road.
But it wasn’t long to chose English. English was the first language of three million South Africans. Two million whites and, generalizing, a million Asians, mainly of Indian extraction. Afrikaans was the first language of three million white Afrikaners and three million so-called colored South Africans. Six million had English. Nine million had Zulu as their first language. About six million had Xhosa as their language. How do you choose English? It would have been unacceptable, and you couldn’t have the two white languages continuing to be the official languages.
So they decided we would have 11 official languages: two white languages and the nine main Bantu languages. And everybody thought this would sound a bit crazy. Each of our nine provinces had to choose at least two of the 11. Some chose two, some chose three. All chose English. Most of them chose Afrikaans and the predominate black language in the area. Any South African is entitled by the constitution to get a copy of any official document in any of the 11 official languages. The result is that English has become the unofficial official language.
In our Constitutional Court, I think in 13 years, there has been one argument in Afrikaans. It’s all English. In Parliament, sometimes to make a point, the other languages are used. When the budgets are delivered, our Minister of Finance makes a great point of talking in some of the other official languages. And it’s important to make that point.
The language issue has really just about been completely diffused in this way. From the Court’s point of view, we took an interesting decision just before I retired from the Court. We had to put out the rules of the Constitutional Court, new rules for this Court. We took a principled decision that was prepared, one of my colleagues, Sandili Mogul(?), was the main author of the rules, as he was then the chairperson of the Rules Committee. We took a decision that they were not to be published until they were ready in all 11 official languages. We said we had to respect that constitutional decision.
It caused a problem, it was not easy in some of those languages to get a translation that satisfied the judges on the court who could understand the language, but that was done. It was, I think, a Solomonic decision that has removed what could have been a very divisive area and has diffused it completely.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: I think it was brilliant. And it is curious how English has emerged as a lingo franco. Final question, Archbishop Tutu, before we open it up to our very patient guests to our private conversation. This is a big question, and no one is in a better position to answer it than you. Sir, what is the legacy of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission? Did it accomplish what it set out to do? Do you think that justice has prevailed for the whites who committed the most heinous crimes and who refused to go before the Commission?
I’m thinking in particular of the case of Adrian Vlok, former law and order minister who refused to go before the TRC. Earlier this year, as you well know, he became the only senior politician to be convicted of apartheid era crime in a criminal court, as I understand it, for the 1989 poisoning and attempted murder of the Reverend Frank Chicane, then the General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches. But, incredibly, he received a suspended, ten-year sentence.
DESMOND TUTU: The Truth and Reconciliation Commission operated under a law whose title is “The Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation.” I think that those words are quite crucial. The promotion, not the achievement, of reconciliation and national security. Frequently, when people say, “Have you achieved?” or “Has the Truth and Reconciliation Commission achieved?” I say reconciliation is not something that can be achieved even by the most efficient commission that anyone could put together. Reconciliation is in fact a national project to which each South African is expected to make a contribution.
I usually get people to look at Germany. Germany was split into two by the Berlin Wall for what 30, 40 years? Let’s say 50 years. Fifty years. The people who were separated were Germans. Ethnically they were the same. They spoke the same language. You would have expected that once the wall fell and you are going to have reunification, that it would be a cakewalk. Reconciliation would happen just like that. Go to Germany today and ask, “What is the state of reconciliation between the former Western Germans and former Eastern Germans?” It’s quite surprising-- Well, it’s very interesting.
I sat in a meeting of church leaders in Germany, and two different people said, “You know, whenever I get to Checkpoint Charlie, Checkpoint Charlie doesn’t exist anymore, but when I get to the point where Checkpoint Charlie was , and I cross over, I still experience what I used to experience, that I am entering an alien area.” You ask and you find, extraordinarily, many former Eastern Germans actually having a nostalgia for those days when they were East Germans.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: The good old days of totalitarianism.
DESMOND TUTU: Yes. Here you have people who speak the same language, who look alike, who were only separated for only a very short space of time, relatively speaking, where reconciliation has been problematic.
We were separated not for 50 years, but for 300 years, speaking 11 different languages. People of different ethnic groupings. The surprising thing, and I said when you asked earlier, is that we should be where we are today. I think many people say that had the TRC not happened, we probably would not be speaking as we are. It was a flawed process, but it was the best that we could have, in that, as Judge Goldstone was pointing out, we have a common history of a certain period.
Many of the criticism against the TRC were that how can you choose 1960 to 1994? How do you have such a narrow definition of violations? Apartheid was the whole system. And I say yes. But the point was to see in ourselves we were acting symbolically. We were saying this was a quite crucial period in our history, and you gave people the opportunity who, for so long were anonymous, of being acknowledged.
I was amazed at the power of storytelling for being so therapeutic. I recall a young man, a black young man, who had been blinded by police action in this township, coming to the Commission and telling his story. At the end of the story, one of our panel asked him, “How do you feel? You are still blind.” And he broke out into a broad smile and said, “You have given me back my eyes.”
It was the fact that one, it was a commission appointed by a president they loved. They would be acknowledged, and the media was fantastic. We have to give them all kinds of kudos, because what was happening in the TRC was being broadcast live on radio. Prime time news’ first items would be about the testimonies that had occurred in the TRC, and the newspapers likewise.
So these people who were nobodies, were nothing for so long, were suddenly, “I saw you. I saw you on television. I saw you in the newspaper. And your story is not just a thing that goes into the air. Your story has become part of my legacy.”
But the anguish-- Human beings are incredible. When you listen to someone say she’s injured and she’s been in ICU for several months and she comes home and she says, “I used not to be able to wash myself, to clothe myself, to feed myself. My children did these things for me.” And she says of an experience that left her in this condition, she says, “It enriched my life.” You do a double-take. “It enriched my life.” And she says, “I’d like to meet the perpetrator. I’d like to meet him in a spirit of forgiveness. And I’d like to forgive him. And I hope he forgives me.”
On occasions like that, I used to say, “Let us keep quiet. For we are in the presence of something holy. We ought to take off our shoes because we are standing on holy ground.” And it was things of that kind, that incredible magnanimity of victims, that enabled and brought this miracle to continue.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: You were the handmaiden of that miracle, sir. [applause] Thank you, panelists. Now we will take your questions. We have taken the questions from the floor. I will read them one by one, and these are from some of our students.
The first question is directed to the good Archbishop.
DESMOND TUTU: Oh dear.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: Did the Truth meetings take a mental toll on you? That’s a fascinating question from the student who asked.
DESMOND TUTU: We were warned not to-- We could so easily traumatize ourselves, because you are sitting there, you are listening, and the end wish that is being expressed is not something that you can just push away from you. You take it in. We were warned not to allow that to happen. A very good sort of analogy was that you shouldn’t become like a vacuum cleaner.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: Or a sponge.
DESMOND TUTU: Yeah. No vacuum cleaner that takes up the rubbish that keeps it in a bag. You must be like a dishwasher. [laughter]
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: That’s good advice.
DESMOND TUTU: And get it out, get it out. But during the TRC, I contracted prostate cancer. I probably would have had prostate cancer. Most men do.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: And black men, a lot of black men.
DESMOND TUTU: But it seemed to be significant. It was saying--
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: Stress.
DESMOND TUTU: I would have put it differently. It was that we were wounded healers. We were ourselves wounded. Apartheid wounded all of us.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: Yes.
DESMOND TUTU: We couldn’t see ourselves as being a cut above anyone. All of the people who came, we were very careful even about the finishing. The way we sat in the TRC, you’d have the Commission here. And you’d have the witness, but we were on the same platform. There was not TRC over here, and you down there. We were together through all of this. And we had the privilege of seeking to heal a wounded people when we ourselves were also wounded. And hoping in the process we too would be healed.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: Yes. Excellent way to put it.
Next question. Actually, I think that the whole concept of an execution of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is astonishing. Can you imagine that happening in the United States? After the Civil War? Now? Never.
Second question. What are the panelists’ opinions on Oprah Winfrey’s Leadership Academy? And I have to say that I was invited by Oprah to the opening, and it was one of the great days of my life. I felt as if we were watching the creation of Eton or Andover or Exeter on the African continent, and for poor African girls.
But given the recent abuse, the questioner continues, given the recent abuse charges of one of the guards, I believe, could Oprah have done more good by spreading the money and her generosity among many schools in need of support? Or was it good to concentrate on one academy of excellence? Anyone?
RICHARD GOLDSTONE: Well, I don’t believe that she should be criticized for having a school for the best. I think that every country needs to nurture its best. A now deceased, very wealthy businessman in South Africa, a bachelor, decided to leave all his estate to further education of South Africans at his alma mater, which was St. John’s College, Cambridge. He decided that all of the money, which was really millions of dollars, should go to South Africans wanting to do a PhD at St. John’s.
People he discussed it with said, “Wouldn’t it be better to spend those millions on South Africans at South African universities? For every one you send to England, with the exchange rate as it is, you could be educating 100 people in South Africa.” And he said, “No. If we ought to succeed in this country, we need the best of the best. Best scientists, best doctors, best businessmen and women.”
And I think he’s right. And the people that we’ve sent-- I’ve chaired the board and selection committee for many years-- And we’ve got South Africans, male and female, black and white, who’ve gone to St. John’s and wrote back something. One of the criteria he laid on, the condition, the selection committee has to evaluate the prospects of this person coming back to use those skills in South Africa. We haven’t done too badly. Sometimes superior powers have supervened and people have got married to someone from a foreign country. We’ve had some attrition--
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: Can’t win ‘em all.
RICHARD GOLDSTONE: I think it’s the same philosophy that has driven Oprah in wanting to get a school for the best.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: Margie? Want to comment on the Big O?
MARGARET MARSHALL: On this one, I feel a little uneasy because I’m here and I tend to think that people who have access to resources often give it for reasons that are very different than mine. But I can’t say that educating women in South Africa is a bad thing. I really can’t. And I think that if you’re going to educate some women in South Africa, it’s a good place to start. Perhaps now she could keep going, and keep going, and keep going, and keep going, and keep going, and have many, many academies.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: Archbishop?
DESMOND TUTU: There’s a lot to be said on both sides, you know. But one of the things that I will say is that it isn’t fair to want to castigate the institution just because somebody on the staff fell short of the standards. When you can say that about any place, really. That’s also to be a reason for castigating an academy.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: Yes.
DESMOND TUTU: I think I would support Judge Goldstone to say you want places of excellence. But you also want to have places which are more accessible to more, because the need is so desperate that I would hope that we could get more of those monies available to invest. We used to say divest. Now we say please invest.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: That sounds good. We have time for one more question, John? Okay. This is from another student. For all of you, and I’d like for each of you to respond and then we will conclude.
JOHN SHUTTACK: “While the institution of apartheid has been dismantled and addressed,” this questioner writes, “many would argue that economically, apartheid not only exists but thrives. How is this being addressed in South Africa today, and what are your recommendations for bringing more economic equality to the people of South Africa?”
DESMOND TUTU: Me?
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: All of you.
DESMOND TUTU: We would wish that somebody did have a wonderful magic wand that they could wave and hey presto. We find we’ve all crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land. That hasn’t happen anywhere. It hasn’t happened here in how many centuries?
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: A long time.
DESMOND TUTU: But that shouldn’t be what motivates us. I myself believe that the extent of poverty, and some of it is dehumanizing, it is awful, it really is awful. Some of the things I’ve seen, I mean-- I’ve said, and other people have said, that we really are really sitting on a power keg.
What is for me surprising is that people can still be so patient. They’ve lived in shacks before 1994, they’re still in shacks, and what is even extraordinary is that these people will wake up in their shelter and go and work in a salubrious setting in the affluent part of town, still very largely white, and come the end of the day, they actually return to their squalor. I can’t imagine them not saying, “Mandela, Tutu? They all spoke about reconciliation. To hell with them.” They haven’t done that.
But that doesn’t mean we are not in a situation when one day we could have an explosion. One of the recommendations of the Truth Commission was that the gap between the rich and the poor, if it is not narrowed quickly and dramatically, then we can kiss reconciliation goodbye. I’m afraid we haven’t-- We’ve got black empowerment and things of that kind, but we are not moving quickly enough in the redistribution of wealth. It is that wealth is still in the hands of much of the same people who were wealthy before we became free.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: Yes.
DESMOND TUTU: I just hope many of them will see that it is to their advantage to close that gap.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: Margie?
MARGARET MARSHALL: I feel it’s a little presumptuous for me to say what can be done in South Africa, living in this country which has such a skewed distribution of wealth which has become even more skewed over the recent decades. I feel I have to return, though, to where we started with Senator Kennedy, which is really to pick up on something the Archbishop said.
If there is a commitment for people to try to work to improve it, and I don’t mean just the government or just the powerful big schemes, but every single person, every single way, I think ultimately that’s the way you have to go. There has to be a recognition that you really have to take a longer point of view. This would probably sound very off-key, but it’s a little bit like our consumption of energy. “Our” meaning in the United States. We all have to take responsibility and we can ask the government to pass huge legislation or each one of us can in our way try to make a difference. I think I have found in my life that if each one of us tries to make just one difference every day that you really can tear down the greatest walls and you really can build a just society.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: Justice Goldstone? A final word?
RICHARD GOLDSTONE: I’ll take a constitutional gloss on this, and it’s interesting and relevant, I think, to an American audience. Fortunately, our constitution constitutionalizes what in the United States is called affirmative action. Our equality clause provides that it’s not inconsistent with it, to have special programs to right the wrongs of the apartheid past. I’m paraphrasing - it’s more formal than that, it provides that it is constitutional to have programs to provide for the disadvantaged, previously disadvantaged. It’s obviously necessary and it’s really part of what Archbishop Tutu was talking about, and I agree. We are going too slowly. You can never go fast enough, but we’re going too slowly.
Let me close with this thought: the one aspect I can never understand and get to grips with on the United States Supreme Court jurisprudence is its equating affirmative action with some sort of reverse discrimination. If people had been disadvantaged because of their race, how do you remove the disadvantage without having regard to their race? It just isn’t possible. And it’s not the equivalent.
JOHN SHATTUCK: We have been treated to a discussion of the long, and I think all of our panelists and undoubtedly all of you in the audience would agree, endless struggle for freedom and justice, not only in South Africa, but all over the world, and certainly here in the United States. And I think, to paraphrase the statement of President Kennedy that is down in our pavilion, we will not accomplish this in the first 100 days, or first 1,000 days, or the first 100 years, but let us begin. I think that’s really what this extraordinary inspiration that we have, from a very specific example of South Africa, is all about.
And as someone who attended the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings that this magical human being, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, ran, and who saw how people came forward to tell their stories, their human stories about justice, I can tell you that I am privileged to have been a witness, both then and now.
I thank all of our panelists, I thank Archbishop Tutu, Justice Margie Marshall, Justice Richard Goldstone, and Professor Henry Louis Gates. And thank you all for coming.