The University of Texas Libraries have partnered with the College of Liberal Arts at The University of Texas at Austin to host an exhibition honoring the life and work of iconic human rights activist Helen Suzman, the South African leader who devoted her life to the fight against apartheid.
The panel exhibit, “Helen Suzman: Fighter for Human Rights,” will be displayed in the University Federal Credit Union Student Learning Commons at the Perry-Castañeda Library through March 27.
Suzman was a member of the South African Parliament for 36 years, from 1953-1989. She was the sole opposition voice condemning apartheid during the 13-year period (1961-1974) when she was the governing body’s only member of the Progressive Party. The exhibition explores nearly four decades of Suzman’s life and vision through photographs, personal letters, quotations from speeches and news articles.
Organized by the Isaac and Jessie Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies and Research at the University of Cape Town, the exhibition was conceptualized, researched and written by Millie Pimstone and designed by Linda Bester. It tells of the animosity, anti-Semitism and intimidation Suzman faced throughout her career. It also highlights her enduring friendship with Nelson Mandela, which began in early 1967 when she met him at the Robben Island Prison where he was a political prisoner.
Suzman was nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Price in recognition of her contribution to the pursuit of justice in South Africa. She received the United Nations Award of the International League for Human Rights in 1978. In 1989, Queen Elizabeth conferred on her an Honorary Dame Commander (Civil Division) of the Order of the British Empire.