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Desmond Tutu’s Fight Against Apartheid Research Paper

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Updated: Aug 7th, 2020

Desmond Tutu is a South African Archbishop who rose to international fame in the late 1970s and the early 1980s because of his role in fighting apartheid – a racial segregation policy in the RSA (Republic of South Africa). Tutu was a fearless advocate of racial equality who used the religious platform to voice the plight of black South Africans. He won the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize alongside his friend and fellow activist Nelson Mandela.

Desmond was born in the year 1931 to a teacher father and a mother who worked as a cook. He was born in Transvaal and schooled in Bantu High School located in Johannesburg. He trained in college as a teacher and soon after, in the year 1954, he finished his studies at “the University of South Africa” (“Desmond Tutu – Biography” par. 7). He briefly taught in high school before he started attending theology classes. In the year 1960, he became a priest.

Between the years 1962 and 1966, he went to England where he graduated with a Master of Theology (“Desmond Tutu – Biographical” par. 1). He subsequently taught theology in his country before he returned to England as the deputy head of a theology school. “In 1975 he was appointed Dean of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Johannesburg, the first black to hold that position. From 1976 to 1978 he was Bishop of Lesotho, and in 1978 became the first black General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches” (“Desmond Tutu – Biographical” par. 1). Tutu has been honored with several doctorate degrees by US, German and UK universities.

Desmond Tutu has had quite a several achievements. As mentioned above, he was appointed in the year 1978 as the “Dean of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Johannesburg, the first black to hold that position” (“Desmond Tutu – Biographical” par. 1). Months later, he was elected as the Bishop of Lesotho. That year, he was appointed as the first black SACC (South African Council of Churches) General Secretary. In this position, Tutu gained global recognition as he spoke fearlessly against the regime.

He was an enthusiastic civil rights leader in South Africa. Desmond worked together with other leaders and ultimately helped in ending racial discrimination in the RSA. Tutu was an active and vocal member and leader in the United Democratic Front (UDF), which was formed to fight racial segregation (“Desmond Tutu – Biography” par. 11). He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in the year 1984, recognizing his role in the fight against apartheid in the RSA.

Desmond Tutu has had a mark in the history of social activism and the fight for racial justice. He is arguably one of the greatest advocates of social justice and his name is indelibly written in the annals of social justice activism alongside other great names like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, and so forth. His methods for fighting social injustice were similar to those of the aforementioned leaders because he resisted using nonviolent techniques. Tutu is arguably a living legend.

As evidenced in the discussion above, Desmond Tutu was an instrumental part of the fight against the apartheid South African government that repressed the rights of black South Africans. Having acquired enviable levels of education at a time when it was difficult for black South Africans to get quality education, Tutu used his knowledge and the opportunities it brought to fight racial inequality in South Africa. He even called for sanctions against the government in a bid to end racial discrimination (Alistair 1). His efforts earned him worldwide recognition, eventually making him a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.

Works Cited

Alistair, Evans 2014, Desmond Mpilo Tutu. 2014. Web.

2013. Web.

2013. Web.

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1. IvyPanda. "Desmond Tutu's Fight Against Apartheid." August 7, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/desmond-tutus-fight-against-apartheid/.


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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Desmond Tutu's Fight Against Apartheid'. 7 August.

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