Clemantine Wamariya Wins National Leadership Award
On September 14th, Peace is Loud speaker and human rights advocate Clemantine Wamariya became the youngest-ever recipient of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s National Leadership Award. She was also the youngest-ever person to serve on the Museum’s Memorial Council whenPresident Obama appointed her in 2011 at the age of 24.
Clemantine received the award during the Museum’s “What You Do Matters” Risa K. Lambert Chicago Luncheon honoring Holocaust survivor, Nobel laureate and the Museum’s Founding Chairman Elie Wiesel. Wiesel played a strong role in Clemantine’s life—after reading his famous book Night in high school, she felt inspired to speak out about her own experiences as a Rwandan genocide survivor and refugee. She wrote an essay about Night which won the Oprah Winfrey National Essay Contest in 2006 and earned her an appearance on Oprah. On the show, Oprah surprised her by reuniting her with her parents and siblings who she hadn’t seen since before the genocide, in over twelve years.
In her acceptance speech for the Leadership Award, Clemantine talked about the power of the community support she’s received in Chicago since moving there as a teenager, and the importance of honoring history through compassion. “History doesn’t repeat itself,” she told the crowd. “We repeat history by choosing to neglect that it happens to real people.” Of the Holocaust Memorial Museum, she said, “The museum acts as an anchor of memories. It is a change agent for the future.”
Watch Clemantine’s full speech below: