National Catholic Reporter

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Gonzaga professor taught black students during South African apartheid

 |  NCR Today

Jenny Nelson, who has taught at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., since fleeing South Africa in 1989, will have special interest in hearing the Jesuit school's 125th commencement address May 13: Nobel laureate and retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu of Capetown, South Africa, will deliver the graduation talk.

While Tutu's opposition to the racial segregation on which apartheid rule rested is well known and documented, Nelson's was quiet but just as dangerous in the 20 years she taught in South Africa.

"She frequently, in violation of the law, taught black students in a township near her hometown so they might become educated in a society that denied black students the same rights to education as white students," writes Peter Tormey on Gonzaga's website in a feature on the professor of education.

Nelson said plans to move into "phased retirement" at the end of this academic year and told NCR she has not personally met Tutu. Yet.

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August 28-September 10, 2015


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