TIP Exclusive: Archbishop Desmond Tutu on Trayvon slaying

Dear Friends, We grieve with Trayvon Martin's family at the needless killing of their son. We grieve that the police have not as yet reacted appropriately to this shameful act. We grieve for a people and nation we admire where such acts can still happen.

Had Trayvon been white he would almost certainly be alive today. We give thanks for the many including President Obama who have expressed their shock and dismay. We give thanks that many white Americans have been equally appalled.

May this tragic act help the US to be true to the ideals of the founding persons of your great nation. May you all realise that you really are all members of one family, God's family, the human family: black, white, Hispanic, Native American, Asian, lesbian, transsexual, gay, bisexual, and so-called straight all belong together in the bundle of life.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu South Africa

Photo by CASEY PAGE/Billings Gazette Staff

Gil's experiences with Archbishop TutuI was involved with a group of persons who sought to enable the transition of South Africa from its racial apartheid history to a racially inclusive history. Therefore I was in Capetown, South Africa on September 7, 1986 for the Enthronement of Archbishop Desmond Tutu as the Anglican Archbishop of Capetown. It was an experience that obviously I will never forget. My most powerful of memories of that day; Following the service in the Anglican Cathedral, there was an outdoor service in a stadium. I remember leaving the stands of the stadium to go to the field and there I received communion from the hands of newly enthroned, Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

The next time I was with him with many other persons was in Colorado when the Archbishop came to a University to speak. Grace and I were there, and one of our most precious pictures is of Archbishop Tutu standing between the two of us for a picture. Both of us taller than he is.

We know of Archbishop Tutu's relationship with Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress. I think that Archbishop Tutu would be pleased that the day after his enthronement, I went to Lusaka, Zambia to visit members of the ANC who were there for training, and reflection as preparation for struggle for  Independence. It was in Lusaka, that I met another of the leaders of the Congress, the late Oliver Tambo.