Champions of Human Rights
Desmond Tutu (1931–2021)
Desmond Tutu is one of South Africa’s most well-known human rights activists, winning the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in resolving and ending apartheid. Born in 1931 in Klerksdorp, Transvaal, South Africa, he became the first Black Anglican Archbishop of both Cape Town and Johannesburg. Known as the voice of the voiceless Black South Africans he was an outspoken critic of apartheid. Tutu also supported the economic boycott of South Africa, while constantly encouraging reconciliation between various factions associated with apartheid.
When Nelson Mandela was elected as the nation’s first Black president—he appointed Tutu chairperson of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission.
In his human rights work, Tutu formulated his objective as “a democratic and just society without racial divisions,” and set forth demands for its accomplishment, including equal civil rights for all, a common system of education and the cessation of forced deportation.
In addition to the Nobel Prize, Tutu has been bestowed numerous awards, including the Pacem in Terris Award, the Bishop John T. Walker Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award, the Lincoln Leadership Prize and the Gandhi Peace Prize.
During his lifetime, Desmond Tutu championed human rights and the equality of all people, both within South Africa and internationally.