I’m heading downtown today with 11 students to hear Naomi Tutu and Dorothy Cotton speak of race, peace, and reconciliation. I realized this morning that the students coming along have no historical background on the importance of these two women. I guess our mini- bus ride will include a crash course in comparative history between the United States Civil Rights movement and the South African Anti-Apartheid movement….along with navigating Atlanta highways in an oversized vehicle.
Common historical narrative tells us that the US Civil Rights movement inspired the Anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa. However, black South African protest in the 1950’s sparked the imagination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and others in America. I’m looking forward to hearing more about how these two stories of struggle, resistance, hope, and restoration intersect and overlap. Stay tuned.
Naomi Tutu, daughter of South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, is associate director of the Office of International Programs at Tennessee State University, founder of the Tutu Foundation, and author of Words of Desmond Tutu and I Don’t Think of You as Black: Honest Conversations on Race. Born in South Africa during apartheid, she is an internationally recognized speaker and consultant on gender, race and international relations and a recipient of numerous awards. She has been a consultant in sub-Saharan Africa and in South Africa on educational and professional opportunities for black women and has taught courses on development, gender, and education in Africa, at the Universities of Hartford and Connecticut and Brevard College in North Carolina.
Dorothy Cotton was the Education Director for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference for twelve years. Working closely with Dr. King, Dorothy served on his executive staff and was part of his entourage to Oslo, Norway, where he received the Nobel Peace Prize. She served as the Vice President for Field Operations for the Dr. M.L.K. Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta.