This Day in Black History: Dec. 10, 1984

This Day in Black History: Dec. 10, 1984

South African social rights activist Desmond Tutu won the Nobel Peace Prize on Dec. 10, 1984.

Published December 7, 2012

(Photo: Courtesy of The Nobel Foundation 1984)

Desmond Tutu, born in Klerksdorp, Transvaal, on Oct. 7, 1931, is a theology professor and bishop who rose to prominence as a vocal opponent of apartheid in the 1980s. Though he initially aspired to be a physician, Tutu followed in his father's footsteps and worked through the education system in South Africa and England before moving back to Africa to speak on the lack of education opportunities for Blacks in South Africa.

On Dec. 10, 1984, Tutu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Two years later, he was elected Archbishop of Cape Town, the first Black African to hold the title. 

During the 1976 Soweto Riots, Tutu called for an economic boycott of the country and his criticisms on apartheid garnered international attention. In his lectures and writing, Tutu wanted his nation to strive for "a democratic and just society without racial divisions."

In 1972, Tutu was appointed vice-director of the Theological Education Fund of the World Council of Churches in the U.K. until South Africa called him home again. He became the first Black person to become Anglican Dean of St. Mary's Cathedral in Johannesburg. At a time when Black South Africans weren't allowed to vote, hold certain jobs, form labor unions, marry other races, travel within the country without a passport or even criticize the system, Tutu now had a platform from which to denounce apartheid.


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Written by Dorkys Ramos


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