On this day in 1989, South-African anti-apartheid activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu defied orders from the apartheid government and led hundreds of protesters to picnic at segregated ‘Whites Only’ beaches at The Strand outside Cape Town.
Though the apartheid police tried to cordon off the area by mounting barricades on the grounds they were using it for a dog training exercise, the protestors still marched onto the beach with Archbishop Tutu iconically carried on their shoulders.
Though the protestors and picnickers were later dispersed, their message was clearly sent.
“It is incredible that the government is prepared to use arms on people who wish to have a picnic,” Tutu said, according to the LA Times. “Instead of getting rid of beach apartheid, they protect it with policemen, dogs and guns.”
“We have proved these are God’s beaches,” he added.
Throughout his life, Desmond Tutu has been one of Africa’s great voices for freedom, justice and democracy. The South African social rights activist and retired Anglican bishop rose to fame in the 1980s due to his fight against apartheid.
Born Desmond Mpilo Tutu on October 7, 1931, in South Africa, the first black Archbishop of Cape Town and bishop of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa, in 1984, received the Nobel Prize for Peace for his role in the opposition to apartheid.
Though he has retired from public life since 2010, he remains one of South Africa’s most distinguishable personality and one of the world’s most prominent religious leaders.
Click here to take a look at the historic photos.