Today marks the 60th anniversary of the forming of the Black Sash: the Women’s Defence of the Constitution League was founded on the 19 May 1955 by six white women who stood together to oppose the Separate Representation of Voters Bill, a law aimed at disenfranchising non-whites. While the League lost their first fight, they grew in strength and determination over the years, changing their name to the now iconic ‘Black Sash’, in reference to the trademark sashes that they wore ‘in mourning’ for the Constitution. The women of the Black Sash movement campaigned against the violation of human rights that resulted from Apartheid, and offered free legal advice, help with finding jobs, access to healthcare, or even money for food when necessary.
The Black Sash is still going strong today, with a shifted focus on education, access to information and community monitoring. While the days of Apartheid are thankfully behind us, it’s imperative that organisations like the Black Sash are supported to ensure that history doesn’t repeat itself.
Click here to read more about the incredible history of the Black Sash.
Photograph courtesy of sahistory.org.za.