View Full Version : Flint Readies For Desmond Tutu Visit

29-05-04, 02:06
FLINT - Retired South African Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu, an internationally known human rights advocate, will speak on race relations here June 9 in what is believed to be his first visit to the Flint area.

The 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner will talk at a public meeting at 2:30 p.m. at Whiting Auditorium. He also will meet with the Mott Foundation Board of Trustees on the foundation's broad financial commitment to democracy in the former racially split nation and support of nonprofit organizations there.

Although Tutu's talk is free, tickets are required and are available on a first-come, first-served basis at Whiting, 1241 E. Kearsley St. The box office is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday except next Monday, when the building is closed for Memorial Day.

"Archbishop Tutu's visit to Flint will be an incredible opportunity to hear from a man of God who knows what it is like to rise from the ashes," said the Rev. George Cleaves, rector of St. Christopher's Episcopal Church in Grand Blanc Township.

Cleaves said he first met Tutu in 1986 while Cleaves was congregation administrator of St. James Episcopal Church in New York City. Tutu also spoke at a conference Cleaves attended in Texas last year.

"He has the ability to embrace the ecclesiastical and the temporal," Cleaves said. "I think he is an incredible gift from God."

Although Tutu has appeared elsewhere in Michigan, Marilyn S. LeFeber, communications vice president for the Mott Foundation, said she knows of no previous visits to Flint by Tutu, who was appointed in 1995 by South African President Nelson Mandela to head the nation's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The national body was established to record testimony about the gross violations of human rights during South Africa's apartheid era.

The celebrated prelate played a vital role in the decades-long battle to defeat apartheid in his homeland of South Africa. In 1989, he led a now legendary anti-apartheid march from St. George's Cathedral in Cape Town and has become a worldwide champion of justice.

He has deplored the U.S. invasion of Iraq, saying the military aggression betrays some of this nation's own ideals including helping get Mandela released from prison.

"The Mott Foundation is honored to host a world leader of the archbishop's stature," William S. White, Mott Foundation president, said in a news release. "Archbishop Tutu's name is synonymous with hope and healing for racially divided communities. He is a compassionate builder of bridges between past and future unity."

The foundation, which has an office in Johannesburg, South Africa, made its first grant to South Africa in 1988. Since then, the Mott Foundation has made almost 400 grants to the nation totaling $43.4 million through March of this year.

The grants are focused on strengthening the nonprofit sector of South Africa, promoting citizen rights, responsibilities and participation; and improving race and ethnic relations.

Tutu is an ordained Anglican priest who served as archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, until his retirement in 1996, when he was given emeritus status.

2004 Flint Journal

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