Students fled into the church but police followed, with tear gas and bullets. No one was killed inside Regina Mundi, but hundreds did die that day, including a 13-year-old school boy named Hector Pieterson, who became a symbol of the Soweto uprisings.
Mrs. Obama is halfway through a weeklong goodwill mission to South Africa and Botswana, during which she is promoting youth leadership, education and health and wellness and steeping herself and her family in South Africa's racist past. She is on her second international trip without the president, but is accompanied by her two daughters, Malia, 12, and Sasha, 10; her mother, Marian Robinson, and a niece and nephew, Leslie and Avery Robinson, 15 and 19, respectively. They are the children of her brother, Craig.
She arrived late Monday in Pretoria. On Tuesday, she got an unexpected chance to meet with Mandela, who has largely retired from public life since leaving office and, at age 92, is in declining health.
Mrs. Obama said Wednesday that the meeting was "very surreal" and that she was still trying to process it all. Her entire family was invited to meet Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison for his role in the anti-apartheid movement, at his Johannesburg home. He was released in 1990 and became president four years later.
"It was powerful. I think I'm still exhausted from just the reality of it, but at the same time it was fun," she told four Washington-based print journalists who traveled with her to Africa.
Mrs. Obama said the message she delivered to Mandela was: "Words can't express how much your life has meant to who my husband is and who I am."
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