Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu!

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Wendy L. Doromal, Corporation for National and Community Service Spirit of Service Award winner hug on stage in Minneapolis, MN at the 19th Annual Service Learning Conference. Photo by J. Pieri Pioneer Press

April 12, 2008

Yesterday I met one of my living heroes, Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa. Archbishop Tutu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 in recognition of his work in opposing apartheid and his promotion of social justice in South Africa. In 1994 following the end of Apartheid and the election of Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Tutu was given the role of Chairman of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which investigated apartheid-era human rights violations and crimes.

The archbishop belongs to a prestigious group, The Elders, which was formed in July 2007 to tackle some of the world's most pressing problems including hunger, poverty, conflict, and global warming. Members of The Elders include Archbishop Desmond Tutu; Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa; former U.S. President Jimmy Carter; Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland, Mohammed Yunus, the Nobel laureate and founder of the Green Bank in Bangladesh; and former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Desmond Tutu serves as one of the foremost moral voices in the world today and is a strong proponent for world peace. I have always admired his work, and his inspirational leadership. Anyone who knows me well, knows I often quote and discuss the work of several labor and human rights advocates including Cesar Chavez, Jimmy Carter, Mother Jones, the Dalai Lama, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. I have been following Archbishop Tutu's path across America via press releases in anticipation of seeing him. He spoke at a the first African American Episcopalian church in Philadelphia on April 8th, and the next day joined actor Richard Gere in San Francisco to show support for a free Tibet. Finally, April 11, 2008, the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate was the keynote speaker at The 19th Annual National Service Learning Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota which I am attending.

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu,
April 11, 2008, 9:30 AM Photo by Wendy L. Doromal ©2008

Archbishop Tutu, small in stature, but big in heart, stood on a box at the podium to address the packed auditorium. He is a profound speaker. He had the crowd moved to tears, and roaring with laughter. He radiates love, oneness, and compassion for mankind.

As an idealist, I was moved when he spoke of how the young people of America have been in the forefront in protesting war, apartheid, and promoting social justice causes. He called upon the hundreds of students in the audience saying that they could change the world, and they were "youth for a change" which was the theme of the conference and the theme of his speech. He said:

"You young people are idealists. You dream dreams. Dream with me my dream. Dream with me my dream of a new kind of world. For us to eradicate poverty. It is possible. You dream of a world when war is no more. Why do we spend billions on instruments of destruction when we could ensure that children, children everywhere in the world, could have clean water to drink, could have a decent home, could have good health care, could have a good education? Please, please, please, please help me, help me to realize my dream."

The previous day, April 10th, was a very special day for me. My two passions are social justice and education, and both were celebrated in huge ways. First, S. 2739 passed the Senate, a cause of celebration for those of us who worked many years to ensure its passage with the hope it would establish social justice for the foreign contract workers in the CNMI. Later that evening, I received the Spirit of Service Award from the Corporation for National and Community Service Learn and Serve America. After Archbishop Tutu spoke, I was called to join him on stage along with other award winners. Archbishop Desmond Tutu and I hugged and he expressed congratulations! He is truly a loving and humble person.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu April 11, 2008, 7:00PM. Photo by W. L. Doromal ©2008

In the evening my friend, Jennifer Bohn, and I went to hear Archbishop Tutu for a second time. This time he stood out even more dressed in a bright fuchsia colored robe and skull cap. As in his morning lecture, he was received with a standing ovation, and exited the stage to thunderous applause and another standing ovation.

His evening lecture was entitled Making Friends Out of Enemies. Characteristically, he opened his speech with a joke. He said when he was in San Francisco several days ago, a woman addressed him as Archbishop Mandela. "It's like getting two for the price of one," he laughed.

He gave a speech every person should hear. He told the audience that we are all one. He said we all need each other to be who we are stating the South African Ubuntu tradition that a person is a person through other persons. He elaborated:

"I need you in order for me to be me. I need other human beings in order for me to be human. We are created so that we aren't ever self-sufficient. I have gifts that you don't have, and you have gifts that I don't have. We compliment each other and make up for what is lacking in the other. We are made for togetherness.

In our country we say a person is a person through other persons. We are made so each one of us is a connection of individuals in the family of humankind. That is the fundamental law of our being - that you and I were made for togetherness, were made for sharing. All kinds of things go horribly wrong when that fundamental law is breached. When we forget that we are family.
We are all God's family. There are no outsiders. Everyone, every single one, is an insider.

You remember, those of you who are Christian will remember, how Jesus Christ said, 'I, if I be lifted up, I will draw all.'

All, all, all. I will draw all to hold in this incredible embrace that excludes no one. I will draw all - black and white, rich and poor,
all, all, all, all, all. Clever, not so clever. Beautiful, not so beautiful. All, all, all. Gay, and lesbian. All all, all, all, all, all. George Bush. All, all, all, all in this extraordinary embrace. An enemy is a friend waiting to be made. An enemy is really a member of my family. No enemies; sisters and brothers. Family."

The audience roared when he included George Bush in his list of all. After his speech, the archbishop was asked questions from the audience moderated by a Minneapolis public radio announcer. She said when he was saying "all, all, all" she had noticed that "George Bush fell sort of low on the list." She told Archbishop Tutu that she wondered what he thought the president's legacy would be. The archbishop did not remark on his feelings for the president, but diplomatically praised Mrs. Bush, saying that he admired her for her stance on Burma. Then he tiptoed off the stage while the audience cheered. In both speeches the archbishop used both wisdom and humor to get his message across.

Naomi Tutu, NYLC breakfast, photo by Wendy L. Doromal ©2008

Earlier that morning I was invited to a small breakfast gathering featuring Naomi Tutu, daughter of Archbishop Tutu. She is the program coordinator for the Race Relations Institute at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. She spoke about the great things that the youth of America accomplish, and how the press too often highlights the negative. Later, I was seated by her in the auditorium as her father spoke. I glanced over and she appeared as captivated with his words as was everyone in the audience, which was touching to witness.

Following his morning speech, Ms. Tutu led a forum to reflect on her father's words. She inherited her father's sense of humor, remarking that her father must have stolen some of her lines. Both father and daughter carry a message of oneness, and peace, and social justice.

Desmond Tutu, April 12, 2008, 2:15PM, Minneapolis, MN. Photo by Wendy L. Doromal ©2008

Today Desmond Tutu and his daughter, Naomi, joined Minneapolis Mayor Raybak to address a gathering of youth and teachers from the conference and PeaceJam who were gathered in North Minneapolis to do community service for the homeless and hungry. Snow fell lightly as teenagers cheered and raced towards his arriving van. The archbishop shook their hands and greeted them warmly. His body guards led him to the stage set up in the parking lot of a grocery store in North Minneapolis. The event was staged in the poorer section of the city noted for its high crime rate.

Archbishop Tutu danced to some hip hop music and joked about the cold and then gave a short speech encouraging the youth. He congratulated them for their service to the community and gave them encouraging and hopeful words.

Naomi Tutu and Minneapolis Mayor Raymond Raybak, Minneapolis, MN, April 12, 2008
Photo by Wendy L. Doromal ©2008

Naomi Tutu asked the youth from a rough section of the city who will they follow - those with bling, those in gangs, or those with principles. She said those who were gathered there were the leaders, they were the ones making their community a better place.

After the speeches everyone worked together to make hundreds of sandwiches, and prepare boxes of drinks and food for to be distributed to the hungry. Some lined up to receive the food and some was sent to shelters.

Photos by Wendy L. Doromal ©2008

Thanks to The Corporation for National and Community Service, Learn and Serve America, National Youth Leadership Council, Florida Learn and Serve, State Farm Insurance, Joe Follman, David Eisner, Amy Cohen, Tracey Seabolt, Dave Premo, and my family, service-learning friends, and supporters for honoring my work, for the opportunity to meet my hero, and for 48 hours I will forever cherish!

Wendy doromal


Ron Hodges said...


You would be a fine addition to the "Elders" and your service learning program is needed in the NMI.


Anonymous said...

WE LOVE YOU!We are very grateful for all your support and concern to the poor,deprived and oppresed workers in the CNMI.
CONTRATULATIONS to Archbishop Desmund Tutu!You are our hero!


bfine107 said...

Hi, Great photos and summary of Tutu's visit.
I was at the Saturday events in my neighborhood in North Minneapolis.
Would you mind if I used a couple of your pictures of Tutu for a blog post?
I'd link to your site and give proper credit.

Site Administrator said...

You are welcome to use the photos! The top one of Desmond Tutu hugging me belongs to the Pioneer Press.

Best wishes