On Thursday, April 28, 2011 at the Embassy of Ghana, The Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa held the first Ambassador Andrew Young lecture series of 2011 entitled “Youth, The Vanguard for Change,” featuring Mr. Michael Blake, Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement and Deputy Associate Director of the Office of Inter-governmental Affairs as well as Ms. Karen Richardson, Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. The speakers emphasized the importance of realizing the potential and promise of youth populations, both in the United States and abroad.
the role of youth as a “significant catalyst for political and social change” both domestically and internationally. Ms. Richardson cited the example of the 2008 presidential election in the U.S which saw the largest voter turnout in 3 decades as well as the international example of how a pan Arabic youth movement dedicated to democracy led to a 4 week uprising in Tunisia and culminated in the end of the 23 year and 30 year rule of the Presidents of Tunisia and Egypt respectively. Ms. Richardson also referenced other key youth led movements in African history, such as the formation of an ANC youth league in 1944 by a 26 year old Nelson Mandela and his peers, instrumental in bringing an end to apartheid. Ms. Richardson defined youth populations as being “at the center” of all these changes. Ms. Richardson highlighted the important and undeniable fact that we live in an increasingly globalized world which means that what happens in other countries has significance for us here at home and world at large. Additionally, Ms. Richardson provided insight into President Obama’s outlook on the subject of “Youth as the Vanguard of Change”, reiterating a prior quote by the President that “not only that youth are at the forefront of change but that they are necessary and key active players as change agents.” As well as the importance of civic responsibility engagement by African governments among their young populations to help realize the vision of a peaceful and prosperous Africa.
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