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Remembering Archbishop Desmond Tutu

January 7, 2022

By Gayle Smith, President and CEO of ONE

In my lifetime I’ve had the privilege and honor to meet American presidents and leaders from all over the world, but Archbishop Desmond Tutu commanded more authority than any person I have ever known. His was borne not of faith, nor of religious hierarchy or the status of the positions he held; it emerged from who he was.

He was fierce, and never hesitated to call out injustice, whether to comrade or foe. He was fair – always willing and able to engage with, listen to, and even learn from those with whom he disagreed. He was hilarious, not by design but by nature. And he radiated, with every ounce of his tiny and relentlessly energetic self, the belief that love can, does, and will conquer hate.

A troubled world now has a big hole in it where The Arch used to be. But the world also has the opportunity to honor a man who spent every hour of his life fighting, arguing, cajoling and advocating for each of us to play to the side of our better angels. In his memory, and in our gratitude, may we all practice just a little bit of The Arch, every day – not just because he was one of the best humans ever to grace this Earth, but because who he was is who we must be.