Human rights activist to speak at Pellissippi State

Nontombi Naomi Tutu shares more than a family name with her legendary father, Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu.

Like the elder Tutu, the former archbishop whose international efforts helped end apartheid in his native South Africa, Naomi Tutu is an outspoken champion for the dignity of people worldwide.

Naomi Tutu will share her perspective Feb. 15 at Pellissippi State Technical Community College at two of the campuses: first, at 10:45 a.m. in the Performing Arts Center on the Pellissippi Campus on Hardin Valley Road, then at 1 p.m. in the Community Room on the Magnolia Avenue Campus.

The presentation is free and open to the public.

Tutu’s visit is sponsored by the Tennessee Consortium for International Studies. TnCIS, which is headquartered at Pellissippi State, was founded in 2006 to make international education and cultural understanding a central goal of higher education in Tennessee. Pellissippi State is one of 19 colleges and universities in the Tennessee Board of Regents system to participate in the consortium.

Tutu’s presentation will focus on the importance of international opportunities for students, blending her passion for peace and equality with humor and personal stories.

“The challenges of growing up black and female in South Africa and being the daughter of a world-renowned human rights activist,” said Milton Grimes, executive director of TnCIS, “have given Naomi a unique perspective, and she has channeled the opportunities she’s been given to help others worldwide.

“She’s a very inspirational person, and genuinely concerned about global peace and fighting injustice.”

Tutu has served as a development consultant in West Africa and as coordinator of programs on race and gender in education at the African Gender Institute at the University of Cape Town. In addition, she has taught at the universities of Hartford and Connecticut and at Brevard College in North Carolina.

She was also associate director of the Office of International Relations and Programs at Tennessee State University and program coordinator for the Race Relations Institute at Fisk University, both in Nashville.

Tutu earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and French from Berea College in Kentucky and a master’s degree in international economic development from the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky.

The award-winning speaker will give the keynote address at TnCIS’ second annual conference on International Education at the University of Memphis on Feb. 12.

For more information on Tutu’s visit or TnCIS, visit or call 865-539-7279. For more on Pellissippi State, visit

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