Archbishop Tutu's visit is part of the former Great Names at Hamilton series, recently renamed the "Sacerdote Great Names Series at Hamilton" in recognition of a significant gift from the family of Alex Sacerdote, a 1994 Hamilton graduate.
Tutu has been one of the leading figures in the fight against apartheid in South Africa. He was elected Bishop of Lesotho in 1975. By that time, South Africa was in the wake of the 1976 Soweto uprising and deep in turmoil. Tutu was persuaded to leave Lesotho and assume the post of general secretary of the South African Council of Churches (SACC). It was in this position, that he held from 1978-1985, that Bishop Tutu became a national and international figure.
A subsidiary of the World Council of Churches, the SACC is committed to the cause of ecumenism and to fulfilling the social responsibility for the church. Justice and reconciliation are its chief priorities. Under Tutu's direction, the SACC became a vital institution in South African spiritual and political life, voicing the ideals of millions of South Africans Christians. Tutu's leadership helped establish the council as an effective machinery providing assistance to the victims of apartheid and inevitably, placed the Archbishop deep within the controversy as he spoke out against the injustice of the system. In 1984, Tutu's contribution to the cause of racial justice in South Africa was recognized when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Tutu spent the next five years working to bridge the chasm between black and white Anglicans in South Africa as Bishop of Johannesburg and later as Archbishop of Cape Town. His election demonstrated the Anglican Church's faith and trust in his spiritual leadership, as well as his ability to pursue racial justice.
Currently, Tutu is Chancellor of the University of the Western Cape. He holds honorary degrees from numerous universities, including Harvard, Oxford, Columbia, the Ruhr, Kent and Aberdeen. In addition to the Nobel Peace Prize, he has received the Order for Meritorious Service Award, presented by President Nelson Mandela, the Archbishop of Canterbury's Award for outstanding service to the Anglican Communion, the Family of Man Gold Medal Award and the Martin Luther King, Jr., Non-Violent Peace Prize.
In 1995 Mandela appointed Archbishop Tutu to head the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In 1998 the commission submitted its first official report to Mandela, marking yet another significant step in the struggle for justice both in South Africa and the world. Tutu retired as Archbishop of Cape Town in 1996, but was named Archbishop Emeritus later that year. The author of four collections of sermons and addresses, Tutu is currently working on two new books, one chronicling the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the other, transfiguration.
Tutu earned a teaching diploma and bachelor's degree from the University of South Africa. After he was ordained to the priesthood in 1961, he went to London where he obtained a Bachelor of Divinity Honors and Master of Theology degree while acting as a part-time curate. Returning to South Africa in 1967, Tutu became chaplain at the University of Fort Hare and later moved to the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland in 1970, where he held the post of lecturer in the department of theology. Tutu would also return to England to serve as the associate director of the Theological Education Fund of the World Council of Churches, based in Kent.
Tutu currently resides in Atlanta and is the Robert W. Woodruff Visiting Professor at Emory University.
Previous Great Names at Hamilton speakers include Lady Margaret Thatcher, Colin Powell, Mary Matalin and James Carville, Elie Wiesel and F.W. deKlerk. In 1998, jazz and blues singer/musician B.B. King was the first artist to appear as part of the series.