MLK week highlighted by visit from Naomi Tutu


The Diversity Affairs office is kicking off this semester with a string of diversity-related events to commemorate the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. week of celebration. The week, which started this Monday, includes several discussions and activities leading up to a lecture today by Nontombi Naomi Tutu, daughter of the famous South African Desmond Tutu.

“She [Tutu] embodies a lot about what Dr. King stood for,” said Director of Diversity Affairs Cherjanet Lenzy. “Her speech will talk about how we can look at out similarities and our differences, which is something everybody needs to pay attention to.”

The speech, titled “Striving for Justice: Searching for Common Ground” will help teach the Allegheny community about the societal effects of our differences, Lenzy said. Understanding these effects will arm those in attendance with new tools with which to continue the fight for equality.

Nontombi Naomi Tutu was born in South Africa and has been a long-celebrated human rights activist. In the 1980’s she founded the Tutu Foundation, which helped South African refugees with scholarships and other resources to help them become productive citizens. Tutu has also done human rights work in Nigeria and the United States, in addition to earning bachelors degrees in economics and French.

“All of our speakers have similar messages,” Lenzy said, “but because of her experience with the South African apartheid, she has a more global perspective.”

Choosing Tutu as a speaker was also unique for Allegheny because the speakers tend to be male, Lenzy said. In a committee put together to organize the Dr. King celebration week, Tutu was recommended by people who had already heard her speeches and were impressed by them.

“I’m excited to see a female diversity speaker,” said Jessica Lin Nelson, ’11. “Hearing a new perspective on human rights will be really good for our campus.”

The event has already garnered outside media attention, and will be filmed by Armstrong Cable. Lenzy said there has been a lot of general interest in the speaker, and she is hoping for a strong turn out.

As for the celebration week as a whole, Lenzy said everything has been running smoothly this year.

“So far, so good,” Lenzy said. “We are trying to incorporate things with faith week, which is also this week.”

Although some students might think that the influence and importance of Dr. King is a thing of the past, Lenzy emphasized that this is not the case.

“I think sometimes folks think celebrating Dr. King isn’t important anymore, but I think we have to recognize what he did and what still needs to be done,” Lenzy said.

The event is scheduled for tonight in the Tippie Alumni center at 7 p.m.

Everyone in the Allegheny community is welcome to attend the lecture and a question and answer session with Tutu afterwards. “The Awareness” fashion show will be the final event in the Dr. King celebrations, and it will take place in the Campus Center lobby at 8 p.m. tomorrow.