Nontombi Naomi Tutu

Photograph of Naomi Tutu

Human Rights Activist

The challenges of growing up black and female in apartheid South Africa have been the foundation of the Rev. Nontombi Naomi Tutu’s life as a motivational speaker and activist for human rights. Those experiences taught her that our whole human family loses when we accept situations of oppression, and how the teaching and preaching of hate and division injure us all.

The human rights activist’s professional experience ranges from being an economist and development consultant in West Africa to being a program coordinator for programs on Race and Gender and Gender-based Violence in Education at the African Gender Institute at the University of Cape Town. In addition, the Rev. Tutu has taught at the University of Hartford, the University of Connecticut and Brevard College in North Carolina. She served as Program Coordinator for the historic Race Relations Institute at Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., and was a part of the Institute’s delegation to the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa.

Growing up the “daughter of Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu” has offered Naomi many opportunities and challenges in her life. Perhaps one of the greatest struggles was the call to ministry. She knew early in life that the one thing she would never be was a priest. She always said, “I have my father’s nose, I do not want his job.” It refused to be silenced, even as she carried her passion for justice into other fields. The call to preach and serve as an ordained clergyperson continued to tug at her. Finally, in her 50s, she responded and went to seminary. She is an Episcopal priest who most recently served as Associate Rector at All Saints, Beverly Hills. She currently resides in Atlanta where she is a priest associate at All Saints’ Episcopal.

As well as speaking and preaching, the Rev. Tutu has established Nozizwe Consulting. Its mission is to bring different groups together to learn from and celebrate their differences and acknowledge their shared humanity. As part of this work, she has led Truth and Reconciliation Workshops for groups dealing with different types of conflict. She is the recipient of four honorary doctorates from universities and colleges in the U.S. and Nigeria.