Albert John Luthuli was a prominent leader of the nonviolent civil rights movement in South Africa and an activist for peace and quality education. He was born around 1898 in a small tribe in Groutville and died July 21, 1967.Luthuli's mother was a heavy supporter of education and encouraged him to pursue his studies. Luthuli attended a local Congregationalist mission school, a boarding school called Ohlange Institute, a Methodist institution at Edendale and finally Adams College, through which he obtained training to become a professional educator. He later taught at Adams College and in 1933, became president of the African Teacher's Association, an organization dedicated to lobbying for quality, liberal education for all Africans.
At the same time, Luthuli played an active role in the Christian church. He functioned as a preacher for many years and later became chairman of the South African Board of Congregationalist Church of America. In addition, he served as president of the Natal Council of South Africa and as a delegate to the International Missionary Conference in Madras in 1938.
From 1936 until 1952, Luthuli was also the chief of his 5,000 member tribe, acting as an official representative, executive leader and traditional dignitary. Luthuli supported members of his tribe and other black South Africans in an effort to fight against government restrictions imposed on them. In 1936, the government disenfranchised those Africans that had voting rights, an act that was followed in 1948 by the policy of apartheid, or a separation of whites and nonwhites, and the Pass Laws in the 1950s, which limited the freedoms of Africans. To fight against these restrictions, Luthuli joined the African National Congress (ANC) in 1944 and was later elected President-General. The group was dedicated to the enforcement of universal human rights and organized several nonviolent campaigns against discriminatory laws.
The South African government soon tried to stifle Luthuli's leadership and power and banned him from all public meetings and large South African centers. In addition, the government forced him to surrender his tribal position of chief by accusing him of having a conflict of interest. After his bans had expired, Luthuli continued his struggle for civil rights but was arrested and charged with treason. More bans were enforced, restricting Luthuli from publishing anything and forcing him to remain within a 15 mile radius of his home. Luthuli was soon found guilty of charges and was given a jail sentence.
It was not until 1961 when Luthuli was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize that he was truly recognized by citizens worldwide for his nonviolent work in South Africa. He was also nominated as the president of the South African Colored People's Congress and as the honorary president of the National Union of South African Students'. Six years after winning the Nobel Peace Prize, Luthuli was fatally injured when he was hit by a freight train while walking near his home. Although he died, South African political protests and civil rights movements continued in his spirit.
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