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State honors Tutu with portrait in Lincoln library
By Nick Shields | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 5/14/2008 12:06 AM

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SPRINGFIELD -- Famed South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu tugged away a red cloth to unveil his portrait at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Tuesday, took several steps back and paused.

He moved to his left, leaned slightly and paused again. Then, Tutu stared for another moment before making his first observation.

"I think she's got the nose right," he said to laughter.

Tutu has spent a lifetime fighting for peace, civil and human rights and against apartheid, and on Tuesday, Illinois officials honored his life in Springfield with a portrait. Later in the day, Tutu was to be given the Lincoln Leadership Prize in Chicago by media mogul Oprah Winfrey.

"I'm very deeply touched," Tutu said. "I mean, people get to hear about persons like ourselves, but you really are honoring those who struggled ... and it is the many anonymous ones of whom I had the privilege to be a leader."

Marla Friedman of Wilmette, the portrait's artist, said it was an honor to be asked to paint Tutu. She said it took about a month to create the portrait. Friedman painted the portrait without a live sitting with the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner and said she hoped to replace the 40-by-30-inch painting one day with one made with Tutu in her presence.

"He's just the most charming, wonderful man," she said. "Bishop Tutu, like Abraham Lincoln, is an impassioned force for freedom and forgiveness, and that's really what means so much to me, because I think that's what our country needs."

Tutu is only the second person to receive the leadership award. In 2006, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor became the first.

Tutu said he appreciated the award but symbolically shared the award with all those he dedicated his life to help.

"Thank you to all those people who really are the recipients," he said. "They allow me to appear tall, because I'm standing -- on their shoulders."