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Desmond Tutu was born on this date in 1931. He was a Black South African educator, priest, and activist.
Born in Klerksdorp, Transvaal, South Africa, Desmond Mpilo Tutu and his family moved to Johannesburg when he was 12. Although he wanted to become a physician, his family could not afford the cost, and he followed in his father's footsteps in teaching. In 1951, Tutu studied at the Pretoria Bantu Normal College and taught at Johannesburg Bantu High School, where he remained until 1957.
During this time, he married Leah Nomalizo Tutu (1955). Following the passage of the Bantu Education Act, he resigned in protest of the poor educational prospects for Black South Africans. He continued studying theology and, in 1960, was ordained as an Anglican priest. He became a chaplain at the University of Fort Hare, one of the few quality universities for Black students in the southern part of Africa. Tutu left his post as chaplain and attended King's College, London, where he received his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Theology. In 1967, he returned to Southern Africa and used his lectures to highlight the circumstances of the African population. In 1970, he lectured at the National University of Lesotho.
In 1972, Tutu returned to the UK, where he was appointed vice-director of the Theological Education Fund of the World Council of Churches at Bromley in Kent. He returned to South Africa in 1975 and was appointed Anglican Dean of Johannesburg, the first Black African to hold that position.
In 1987, Tutu was awarded the Pacem in Terris Award. It was named after a 1963 encyclical letter by Pope John XXIII that calls upon all people of goodwill to secure peace among all nations. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism, and the Magubela prize for liberty in 1986.
Tutu defied Apartheid law in 1989 by walking on a white-segregated Beach in his homeland. He is committed to stopping global HIV/AIDS and has served as the honorary chairman of the Global AIDS Alliance. In 1996, Tutu was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
In 2000, Tutu received an honorary doctor of law degree from the University of Alberta. In 2005, Tutu received an honorary degree from the University of North Florida. That same year he was named a Doctor of Humane Letters at Fordham University in the Bronx. Berea College also awarded him an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters before delivering the commencement address. In 2006, Tutu was named a Doctor of Public Service at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, where he was also the commencement speaker. He was awarded the Light of Truth award by the Dalai Lama for his contribution toward public understanding of Tibet.
Tutu was elected and ordained the first Black South African Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, and Primate of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa (now the Anglican Church of Southern Africa). In February 2007, he was awarded the Gandhi Peace Prize by Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, President of India.
He and his wife had four children: Trevor Thamsanqa Tutu, Theresa Thandeka Tutu, Naomi Nontombi Tutu, and Mpho Andrea Tutu, all of whom attended the Waterford Kamhlaba School in Swaziland.
Desmond Tutu, whose moral might permeated South African society during apartheid's darkest hours and into the unchartered territory of a new democracy, died on December 26, 2021. He was 90.