Monday, December 27, 2021
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center reflects on the life of Archbishop Desmond Tutu
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center mourns the passing of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Archbishop Tutu lived a life dedicated to equity and freedom, to love of his fellow man. He received some of the world’s highest accolades for justice for his advocacy and his work, including the Nobel Peace Prize and our own International Freedom Conductor Award (2000). We have lost a bright light in the world with his passing, and freedom has lost one of its great defenders.
Archbishop Tutu lived a remarkable life, overcoming obstacles and breaking down barriers in the name of equity and inclusiveness. He is perhaps best known for his work to end apartheid in South Africa – the despicable, institutionalized racial segregation of South Africa from 1948 to the 1990s. Together with his friend and contemporary Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Tutu toppled the decades-old practice. He loved all people and sought to strike down oppression wherever he saw it. He was equally passionate about and intimately involved in efforts to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic, advocating for a free Tibet, fighting child trafficking and defending LGBTQ+ rights. His life was one of action, his message one of love, his spirit once-in-a-generation.
As the march of time continues to reclaim a generation of great lions of justice, we carry forward their legacy. On their shoulders we stand to raise a new generation even higher, so the walls that once deprived so many of justice will no longer be a barrier to equity. We are that new generation. And we must continue Archbishop Tutu’s work, using his lessons and his example to guide us ever closer to true inclusive freedom for all.
Woodrow Keown, Jr.
President & COO
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center