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Commencement Speaker: Archbishop Tutu

Desmond Tutu

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who won the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent opposition to apartheid in South Africa and his contribution to the cause of racial justice, will be Penn's Commencement Speaker on Monday, May 19.

That evening, Archbishop Tutu will speak at an event co-sponsored by the University, the World Affairs Council and the de Tocqueville Society of the United Way.

This will be his second visit to Penn; in January of 1986, he delivered the keynote address at the University's Martin Luther King Commemoration. He spoke on the struggle for racial equality; he has been an outspoken proponent of economic pressure to bring reform of South Africa's policy of racial separation. He has formulated his objective as "a democratic and just society without racial division."

Currently, Archbishop Tutu is Chancellor of the University of the Western Cape. He holds honorary degrees from numerous universities, including Harvard, Oxford, and Columbia. In addition to his Nobel Prize, he has received the Order for Meritorious Service Award (Gold) presented by President Nelson Mandela, the Archbishop of Canterbury's Award for outstanding service to the Anglican Communion, the Prix d'Athene (Onassis Foundation), the Family of Man Gold Medal Award and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Non-Violent Peace Prize.

In 1995, President Mandela appointed Archbishop Tutu to head the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In 1998, the commission submitted its first official report to President Mandela, marking yet another significant step in the struggle for justice both in South Africa and the world. He retired from office as Archbishop of Cape Town in 1996, but was then named Archbishop Emeritus. He is the author of Crying in the Wilderness. The Struggle for Justice in South Africa; Hope and Suffering: Sermons and Speeches; and The Rainbow People of God: The Making of a Peaceful Revolution. Tutu is now working on two new books, one chronicling the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the other, transfiguration.

In 1975, Archbishop Tutu was appointed as Dean of St. Mary's Cathedral in Johannesburg, the first place to hold that position. The following year, he was elected Bishop of Lesotho. By this time, South Africa was in the wake of the 1976 Soweto uprising and in turmoil. He left his diocese to take up the post of General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches (SACC); he was the first black in that role. It was in this position, a post he held from 1978 until 1985, that he became a national and international figure. He represented 12 million Christians of all races during that time.



  Almanac, Vol. 49, No. 11, November 5, 2002