South Africa: Overcoming Apartheid

The Black Sash

Video Interviews

"Men [had] to think 'Well, if do this I might lose my job and the family will starve,' and they weren't as free as we were ..."
Video interview segment with Ruth Noel Robb, Barbara Versfeld, Lettie Malindi [1:33]
May 23, 2005

Images

Summary

The Black Sash (originally called the Women's Defence of the Constitution League) was founded in 1955 as an organization of white women to promote respect for the constitution and protest the loss of voting rights for Coloureds. Members would stand silently in public places wearing a black sash as a symbol of mourning for the government’s disregard for the constitution. The Black Sash established Advice Offices in urban centers to assist Africans with many issues, particularly the pass laws. Black Sash members also became involved in protesting forced removals, monitoring pass courts, and being a presence at political funerals in the 1980s. In post-apartheid South Africa, the Black Sash continues to provide free paralegal advice and also conducts monitoring, research, educational programs, and campaigns about human rights issues.

Web Documents

Magazine Article: "The Story of the Women's Defence of the Constitution League", The Black Sash

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Magazine Article: "Sashers in Action: A Day at Langa and Nyanga", The Black Sash

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AODL African Studies Center MSU Matrix NEH