Truth and Reconciliation: Healing the Wounds of Racism

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Naomi Tutu

Naomi Tutu, a visionary international activist and educator, will deliver the first spring lecture in Bearing Witness, the Weissman Center’s 2007-2008 series. Tutu, who was born in Kugersdorp, South Africa, came of age during the oppressive and divisive era of apartheid. She has become a highly respected global citizen who works on behalf of refugees, women, and those affected by violence.

Ms. Tutu’s commitment to human rights, social justice, and education, extends the work of her father, the Archbishop Desmond Tutu, winner of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize. Her studies and scholarly work in Economics and International Development have shaped her public efforts to advocate on behalf of those who are subjected to economic, political, and educational disenfranchisement. In 1985, she co-founded the Tutu Foundation and during her tenure as its chairperson implemented programs that provided vital support to South African refugees living in African countries. Her work as a consultant has enabled her to establish important connections within Africa and throughout the world and to deepen her advocacy work on behalf of African women.

Ms. Tutu is keenly aware of the challenges facing young people, especially those who are eager to transform their lives for the better and participate fully in national and international movements for social and economic change. Tutu speaks plainly about the politics of education and the intrinsic value of educational equality and opportunity. "What sustained and encouraged young black people like me in Apartheid South Africa where education for blacks was not seen as important by the government,” she reflects, “was that our successes and failures were more than just ours, they were the successes and failures of our entire community." Tutu’s public work underscores the power of the collective, and her unwavering dedication to efforts that work to achieve democracy, to protect human rights, to create solidarity across race, class, and nationalities, and to sustain empowering global partnerships.

She has sustained her commitment to education and global outreach through her work as a consultant, motivational speaker, and retreat leader. In her work as a consultant, she has worked with the United States Agency for International Development and South African-based consulting groups, a range of non-governmental organizations, and with Sister Sojourner, a group that she cofounded with colleague Rose Bator in 2002, that brings South African and American women together for leadership retreats in Cape Town, South Africa.

Naomi Tutu’s colleagues have hailed her as a visionary leader, one whose gifts of diplomacy, innovation and experience in international affairs have shaped contemporary debates on issues of globalization, women’s rights, human rights, and reparations. Tutu declares that we must "be willing to speak and hear the truth because then we will have our just society.” Her lecture, entitled Truth and Reconciliation: Healing the Wounds of Racism, will blend her own biography and an insightful lecture on the realities of divisive society and the promise of communities that work to protect and sustain the dignity of all people.

Event Details

Date: Thursday, February 28, 2008
Time: 7:30 pm
Speaker: Naomi Tutu
Place: Gamble Auditorium, Art Building, Mount Holyoke College
Admission: Free and open to the public