Truth and Reconciliation: Healing the Wounds of Racism

Race and Gender Activist Nontombi Naomi Tutu

Human Rights Awareness Week
Sponsored by Central Pennsylvania Consortium (CPC), Center for Liberal Arts Society, The Human Rights Initiative, Alice Drum Women’s Center, Ware Institute for Civic Engagement, International Women's Outreach Committee, Women's and Gender Studies, Office of Re

Wednesday, March 21, 2012
7:30 p.m.

The challenges of growing up black and female in apartheid South Africa has led Nontombi Naomi Tutu to her present role as an activist for human rights. Her experiences have taught her how much we all lose when any of us is judged purely on physical attributes.

The third child of Archbishop Desmond and Nomalizo Leah Tutu, she was born in South Africa and has also lived in Lesotho, the United Kingdom and the United States. She was educated in Swaziland, the U.S. and England and has divided her adult life between South Africa and the U.S. Growing up as the “daughter of …” has offered her many opportunities and challenges in her life. Most important of these has been the challenge to find her own place in the world. She has taken up the challenge and channeled the opportunities that she has been given to raise her voice as a champion for the dignity of all.

Tutu has served as a development consultant in West Africa and a program coordinator for programs on Race and Gender and Gender-Based Violence in Education at the African Gender Institute at the University of Cape Town. She has also taught at the Universities of Hartford and Connecticut and Brevard College.

Tutu began her public speaking career as a college student at Berea College in Kentucky in the 1970s, when she was invited to speak at churches, community groups and colleges and universities about her experiences growing up in apartheid South Africa. Since that time she has become a much sought after speaker for groups as varied as business associations, professional conferences, elected officials and church and civic organizations. In her speeches she blends the passion for human dignity with humor and personal stories.

She has also led Truth and Reconciliation Workshops for groups dealing with different types of conflict. In collaboration with Rose Bator, she presents a workshop titled “Building Bridges: Dealing with Issues of Race and Racism.” The two also lead women’s retreats through their organization, Sister Sojourner. They are also writing a book, "I Don’t Think of You as Black: Honest Conversations on Race and Racism."

Tutu is a consultant to two organizations that reflect the breadth of her involvement in issues of human rights: the Spiritual Alliance to Stop Intimate Violence, founded by renowned author Riane Eisler and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Betty Williams, and the Foundation for Hospices in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Series: International Women's Week and Human Rights Week

This event is open to the public.

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