Today marks the retirement of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, an “event [that] invites us to celebrate his many accomplishments from which we have all benefited,” said President Obama. “We will miss his insight and his activism, but will continue to learn from his example.”
In 2009, Archbishop Desmond Tutu was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. America’s highest civilian honor — the 2009 awardees were chosen for their work as agents of change. In a never-before-seen video interview from the event, Tutu discusses being a catalyst of change and realizing one’s full potential.
Here is President Obama’s full statement on the Archbishop’s retirement: It is with deep appreciation that I note Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s retirement from public life today on the occasion of his 79th birthday. This event invites us to celebrate his many accomplishments from which we have all benefited. For decades he has been a moral titan—a voice of principle, an unrelenting champion of justice, and a dedicated peacemaker. He played a pivotal role in his country’s struggle against apartheid and extraordinary example of pursuing a path to forgiveness and reconciliation in the new South Africa. He has also been an outspoken voice for freedom and justice in countries across the globe; a staunch defender of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons; and an advocate for treatment and prevention programs to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. We will miss his insight and his activism, but will continue to learn from his example. We wish the Archbishop and his family happiness in the years ahead.