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Howard University hosts State Department talks

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken delivered remarks at Founders Library on Tuesday as part of a larger U.S.-India Higher Education discussion with Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar.

By Jon Musselwhite


Secretary Blinken shakes Dr. Jaishankar’s hand. Photo courtesy of Jon Musselwhite.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken delivered remarks at Founders Library on Tuesday as part of a larger U.S.-India Higher Education discussion with Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar. 

Both officials spent time after their remarks to answer questions from Indian students, scholars, and researchers.


Dr. Jaishankar answers a researcher’s question. Photo courtesy of Jon Musselwhite.

During his remarks, Secretary Blinken said, “It is incredibly fitting that we’re meeting at Howard University to talk about how to deepen the educational ties between India and the United States.”

He spoke about Howard Thurman, former dean of Rankin Chapel, traveling to India in 1935 to pull lessons from the country’s independence movement that might be relevant to the racial justice movement in the United States.

A person standing at a podium

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Secretary Blinken talks about Howard University and the importance of collaboration in higher education. Photo courtesy of Jon Musselwhite.

Near the end of that trip, he said, Therman met with Mahatma Gandhi. They spoke for hours on a wide range of issues which shaped Thurman’s interpretation of nonviolence that was the bases for his book, Jesus and the Disinherited.

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That book would later be one of the two carried by Dr. Martin Luther King, alongside the Bible.

After the televised event, Secretary Blinken and Diplomat in Residence Yolonda Kerney sat down with Howard University students to answer their questions about career pathways in the State Department and his efforts to create a department that is more diverse and representative of the population.


A student asks Secretary Blinken a question. Photo courtesy of Jon Musselwhite.

He told students of a strong tradition of Howard University alums like Dr. Ralph J. Bunche at the State department.


Secretary Blinken answers a student’s question. Photo courtesy of Jon Musselwhite.

Dr. Bunche was a diplomat, political scientist, and leader in the decolonization process and civil rights movements or the mid-20th century. In a symbolic depiction of his diplomatic career, he often posed for photos either beside or behind a globe.


Portrait of Dr. Bunche standing behind a globe. Photo courtesy of Scurlock Studio Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.

After the meeting, students gathered around the globe that appears in one of Dr. Bunche’s pictures for a photo with Secretary Blinken.

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Secretary Blinken (center, left), Diplomat Yolonda Kerney (center), and Provost Wutoh (far left) gather around the globe from one of Dr. Bunche’s photos. Photo courtesy of Jon Musselwhite.

A video of the televised portion of the visit can be found on YouTube.

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Copy edited by Ashleigh Fields

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