Archbishop Desmond Tutu Visits Buffalo


Archbishop Desmond Tutu Visits Buffalo


On January 29, 1989, the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa visited Buffalo to seek help in ending apartheid in his country.

Apartheid, which means “apartness” in the language of Afrikaans, was the name given to the official separation of the race. The practice was enforced by a government dedicated to principals of white supremacy. The National Party came to power in 1948.

The National Party, through legislation in 1950, classified South Africans according to race. Based on racial classification, the government decided where people could live and work, what type of schooling they could receive, what facilities would be open to them, who they could associate with, and whether or not they could vote.

Archbishop Tutu called the practice “evil.” His 1989 visit to Buffalo came at a time when an anti-apartheid faction within the National Party was beginning to make significant changes.

Tutu, who won the Nobel Peace Prize, told Buffalo audiences they could help in the fight against apartheid, even if it was just by saying a prayer. He compared the policy of apartheid to Nazism. He preached non-violence in the tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

WIVB-TV anchor Jacquie Walker interviewed Archbishop Tutu for a special program that documented his appearances in Western New York and his thoughts on civil rights. He said he believed he would see an end to apartheid in his lifetime.

In a report by WIVB’s Rich Newberg, African American inner-city residents living on Buffalo’s East Side shared thoughts about their own struggles for equality and the consequences of systemic racism. Violent crime was affecting their quality of life. There were also demonstrations against police brutality.

Deputy Assembly Speaker Arthur O. Eve told Mr. Newberg that conditions had worsened since the urban race riots of the late 1960s. He said there were more homeless people of color, that the Buffalo infant mortality rate among Blacks and Latinos was the highest in the nation, and drugs and Aids were wreaking havoc in the inner-city.

The campaign to end apartheid achieved success in 1994 with the formation of a democratic government in South Africa. The white minority’s rule through fear and intimidation had finally ended.




Rich Newberg Reports Collection


WIVB (Television Station: Buffalo, N.Y.)

Buffalo & Erie County Public Library (publisher of digital)


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