Recalling Desmond Tutu’s Visit To Amherst


Photo courtesy Jeff Waldron, LAOS Interfaith Bookshop

The world mourns the passing of South African clergyman Desmond Tutu who died on December 26 at the age of 90. Archbishop Tutu worked tirelessly to bring a peaceful end to apartheid in his home country. For his pursuit of “a democratic and just society without racial divisions” he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1984.

After apartheid was finally ended in 1994, South African President Nelson Mandela appointed Tutu head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which employed restorative justice to transition the country from its recent history of human rights abuses.

In October 1992 Desmond Tutu traveled to Amherst at the invitation of the University of Massachusetts. It is believed that it was during this visit that the above photo was taken.  It pictures him purchasing a book at the LAOS Interfaith Bookshop at its location on Spring Street next to Grace Episcopal Church.  To his left are his daughter Mpho Andrea and wife Normalizo Leah.

The UMass visit was arranged by Ark Episcopal chaplin Christopher Carlisle and was the first stop of a ten-day U.S. tour. Archbishop Tutu spoke at the Fine Arts Center before a capacity audience of 2000 on Oct. 6.  “We are different not so we will be apart and separate. We are different so we will know our need of one another,” proclaimed Tutu.

We thank Martha and Jeff Waldron, former LAOS Bookshop managers, for sharing the photo.  Appreciation also goes to the reference and special collections librarians at the Jones Library for research assistance.

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