Desmond Tutu’s daughter to speak at RCC

There’s going to be some momentous speeches in Austin this Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Noted human rights activist Naomi Tutu will give the keynote speech at this year’s Austin Human Rights Commission celebration at Riverland Community College.

“It is exciting,” said Kirsten Lindbloom, HRC chairwoman.

Tutu has served as a development consultant in West Africa and a program coordinator at the African Gender Institute at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. She’s also the daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Naomi Tutu has spoken in Austin before, about 20 years ago when apartheid in South Africa dominated the conversation. Yet Austin has changed considerably since then, with more residents of color and more diversity issues to solve.

“This is not the community that she spoke to before,” Lindbloom said.

Tutu will speak on finding similarities among ourselves in her speech “Our Shared Humanity: Creating Understanding Through the Principles of MLK.” That should prove beneficial to Austin, according to Lindbloom.

“It’s really important to continue to change that message up and the voice in which (it’s) coming from,” Lindbloom said. “Oftentimes, it’s an external voice that makes a difference.”

Though Tutu will make an appearance, several Austin residents will be honored for their human rights contributions to the community this year. The annual HRC awards will go to:

—Jennifer Lloyd, a Sumner Elementary School Spanish teacher and Constellations program coordinator for her diversity work at Sumner.

—Carolyn and Dr. Fred Bogott, who have helped many international scientists at the Hormel Institute through their mentorship program.

—Danielle Borgerson-Nesvold, head of the Community Against Bullying, who helped start CAB in February and brought in international speaker The Scary Guy to Austin schools in October to promote peace and combat bullying.

—Riverland Community College’s Amnesty International group, which has organized several events highlighting local and global human rights causes including the Ciudad Juarez murders and homosexual intolerance.

—Mower County Attorney Kristen Nelson, Assistant Attorney Jeremy Clinefelter, Austin Police Chief Brian Krueger and Captain Dave McKichan for their leadership in Mower County’s policy to not prosecute undocumented residents if they are the victim of a crime.

In addition, Austin schools will kick off several service projects including a book drive for local, national and international children. Residents are encouraged to drop off books at the Frank W. Bridges Theatre, where the MLK Jr. celebration will take place. The event starts at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 16.

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