Archbishop Tutu's Last U.S. Speech A Tribute To Young People

Archbishop Desmond Tutu addressed an estimated 200 to 250 participants in a peace walk in West Hartford Saturday morning before walkers departed on the 2.5 mile route to benefit the World Youth Peace Summit.

Saturday's walk started at West Hartford town hall and took participants south on Raymond Road across Park Road and on Overbrook Road before turning right on Ledgewood Road. The route continued right on Webster Hill Boulevard and a right on South Main Street before returning to town hall.

Tutu spoke for almost five minutes in West Hartford Saturday .

Tutu delivered a 40-minute speech at the XL Center, the last one he plans in the United States, Friday night which kicked off a series of events organized by the Institute for International Sport, a Rhode Island-based nonprofit group run by West Hartford resident Daniel Doyle Jr. The institute's immediate goal is to bring people together through sports and the arts; its long-term goal is peace on Earth.

This summer, the institute's World Scholar-Athlete Games and the World Youth Peace Summit will bring thousands of people from throughout the world to Greater Hartford. The summit will feature a number of speakers, including former Vice President Al Gore and former U.S. Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell.

Tutu, 79, was born in Klerksdorp, South Africa, and was the first black man to lead the Anglican Church in that country. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his campaign against apartheid.

About 1,500 people went to Hartford to hear the bishop speak.

Tutu focused on how young people — the Institute for International Sport's target audience — help their neighbors and foster peace and understanding. Over time, God has collaborated with young people, he said, using religious notables like St. Francis of Assisi as examples.

He also used more current examples, telling stories of school children raising money for Japan after it was devastated by an earthquake and of a group of high school students who tried to alleviate a gang problem in their area. He also spoke of apartheid and how young people played a role in bringing about an end to the racial segregation and an end to other events, such as the Vietnam War.

Like God, young people do not want to see people go to bed hungry and want everyone to have clean drinking water, Tutu said.

He said God sees the things people do to one another, such as murder, genocide and the mistreatment of women. "God looks down, and God weeps," he said. Although many older people have stopped trying to avoid disaster and now try to mitigate it, young people want change, he said.

"When are we going to get it?" Tutu asked. "This is the only world we have."

Tutu concluded by saying that, no matter what one does in life, God accepts all people, paying no attention to race or sexual orientation. He accepts both President Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden, he said.

Tutu's speech preceded a performance by jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis, another social activist who has joined several relief efforts, including one following Hurricane Katrina.

April Couloute of Winchester said she went Friday to hear Tutu's words of encouragement because she believes in his message. Young people can separate themselves from their daily stress and bring joy to life, she said.

"They are going to change the way things are," Couloute said. "They are going to be the lights of the world."

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