Bishop Desmond Tutu
As a spiritual, social, and political leader in South Africa, Desmond Tutu has called for racial justice and equality without lending himself to frustration or violence. Born in 1931 in Transvaal, South Africa, Tutu soon moved to Johannesburg and studied Theology in South Africa and England. After being ordained an Anglican minister, he became chaplain at the racial hotspot the University of Fort Hare, then Bishop of Lesotho, and finally the first black General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches. In these positions, he turned his focus to the stark racial inequalities in his home nation. Under apartheid, whites, 20 percent of the population, dominated 87 percent of the resources, and almost all political power. Unlike many of his fellow anti-apartheid activists, Tutu patiently negotiated for years with Afrikaner politicians such as P.W. Botha for many key issues. Through boycotts and peaceful assemblies, he pressured for reform on unequal civil rights, segregated schools, passport laws, and forced deportation. In 1976, protests in Soweto grew into a massive anti-apartheid demonstration, and Tutu used the momentum off of these events to shape a powerful movement that freed Nelson Mandela in 1990 from prison and united the nation for reform. For his work against apartheid, he received the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize. Fourteen years into the life of a free South Africa, Bishop Tutu continues to council the government and work for a more just nation and world.
"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality."
"I don't preach a social gospel; I preach the Gospel, period. The gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is concerned for the whole person. When people were hungry, Jesus didn't say, "Now is that political or social?" He said, "I feed you." Because the good news to a hungry person is bread."
"We must not allow ourselves to become like the system we oppose. We cannot afford to use methods of which we will be ashamed when we look back, when we say, '...we shouldn't have done that.' We must remember, my friends, that we have been given a wonderful cause. The cause of freedom! And you and I must be those who will walk with heads held high. We will say, 'We used methods that can stand the harsh scrutiny of history."