Desmond Tutu

By Jack Heaps

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Life and Accomplishments of Desmond Tutu


Desmond Tutu was born on October 7, 1931 in Klerksdorp, South Africa. His father was an elementary school principal and his mother worked cooking and cleaning at a school for the blind. South Africa was segregated when Tutu was growing up. His parents had taught him that he should not accept discrimination and that religion could be a powerful tool for advocating racial equality. His family moved to the capital city of Johannesburg when he was 12 years old. Tutu attended Johannesburg Bantu High School, an underfunded all-black school where he received a poor education. Tutu graduated from high school in 1950 and he accepted a scholarship to study education at Pretoria Bantu Normal College and graduated with his teacher's certificate in 1953. He then continued on to receive a bachelor's degree from the University of South Africa in 1954. Upon his graduation from university, Tutu returned to his high school to teach English and history.


in 1958, Tutu enrolled at St. Peter's Theological College in Johannesburg. He was ordained as a deacon in 1960 and as a priest in 1961. In 1962, Tutu left South Africa to pursue theological studies in London, receiving his master's of theology from King's College in 1966. In 1970, Tutu moved to the University of Roma to serve as a lecturer in the department of theology. Tutu's rise began when he became the first black person to be appointed the Anglican Dean of Johannesburg in 1975. It was in this position that he emerged as one of the most prominent voices in the South African anti-apartheid movement.

Later Life

  • Tutu was selected as the General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches in 1978
  • In 1984, Desmond Tutu received the Nobel Peace Prize

Significance Desmond Tutu had to the Anti-Apartheid Movement

Tutu used his elevated position As the first black head of the Anglican Church in South Africa to advocate for an end to apartheid. The strategy of preaching nonviolence, along with protests by South Africans and people around the world, finally ended apartheid. On April 27, 1994 Desmond Tutu and all the other people of color in South Africa could vote together with whites for the first time. On that day, Nelson Mandela was elected as the first black president of South Africa.