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‘This is not the end of our story’: Rev. Tutu delivers inaugural Black History Month convocation speech at McDaniel College

During an empowering speech Wednesday at McDaniel College’s inaugural Black History Month convocation, the Rev. Nontombi Naomi Tutu continually invoked a phrase her grandmother spoke during apartheid in South Africa: “This is not the end of our story.”

Apartheid legislation institutionalized racial segregation between South Africa’s white minority and nonwhite majority from 1948 to 1994, sanctioning political and economic discrimination against the Blacks in that country. The challenges of growing up in apartheid South Africa have inspired Tutu to teach and preach against systemic oppression.

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“Our story is not going to end with us being an oppressed people in our own land, our story is not going to end with our humanity being questioned,” she said.

Tutu is the third child of the late Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, one of South Africa’s most well-known human rights activists. In 1984, Desmond Tutu was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end apartheid in South Africa. He died at the age of 90 on Dec. 26, 2021.

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On a daily basis, his daughter said, activists were tortured, protests were held and people died in police detention. Throughout those traumatic experiences, she always remembered her grandmother’s words.

“I saw so many courageous people during apartheid,” she said. “I held onto ‘this is not the end of our story,’ as we went from state-of-emergency; to state-of-emergency; to state-of-emergency.”

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Tutu, who has divided her adult life between South Africa and the United States, also explained how systemic racism is woven into the foundation of American culture. She highlighted stories of young Black men shot by police and the fight against teaching “critical race theory” in American schools.

“I hold on to that phrase, ‘This is not the end of the story,’ once again living as a Black woman in [America],” she said.

Marnice Briscoe, a senior majoring in social work at McDaniel College, attended the speech and said she was moved by Tutu’s words. Briscoe said she was struck by the similarities of systemic oppression between apartheid South Africa and modern-day America.

Richard Smith, McDaniel’s associate provost for equity and belonging, called the Tutu’s speech powerful.

“I was really happy that she was here, and she really kicked off this Black History convocation,” Smith said. “It was exactly what we needed to hear at this time.”

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Smith said the convocation will be a signature event planned annually at McDaniel in recognition of Black History Month.

Tutu started her public speaking career as a college student at Berea College in Kentucky in the 1970s and continues to share her story as a human rights activist today.


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