Former South African President and Nobel Peace Prize winner F.W. De Klerk stopped by Illinois State University on Tuesday to talk to students on the topic “Bridging the Gap: Globalization Without Isolation.”
In 1994, De Klerk and the late Nelson Mandela collaborated to end apartheid, or institutional racial segregation, in South Africa.
De Klerk said though many call him “the last president of apartheid” he did not support it, and worked to change the country once he was elected. When it comes to America, he said the country used to be a leader in racial equality.
“I think America should go back to its good history of eradicating discrimination and fighting racism,” De Klerk said.
He came to the university to be a part of their Speaker Series, bringing history to life.
“Students and the rest of the audience get a chance to revisit history a little bit. People that were not old enough to see Nelson Mandela leave prison and understand the transformation that South Africa underwent,” ISU Director of Media Relations Eric Jome said.
Touching on American politics, De Klerk sait it is not his place to judge, but that there is work to be done.
“People must rise above their narrow allegiances and take hands and say on this issue we need a more united approach. In order to define what that new united approach must be, we should talk to each other and negotiate,” he said.
When it comes to fixing the country, he said, only one group can do it.
“It is in the hands of the people of America. Not for me to say,” he explained.