Google Doodle celebrates the 116th birthday of English-born South African anti-apartheid activist Helen Joseph on April 8, 2021.
Who is Helen Joseph?
Helen Beatrice Joseph (8 April 1905 – 25 December 1992) was a South African anti-apartheid activist. Born in Sussex, England, Helen graduated with a degree in English from the University of London in 1927 and then departed for India, where she taught for three years at Mahbubia School for girls in Hyderabad. In about 1930 she left India for England via South Africa. However, she settled in Durban, where she met and married a dentist, Billie Joseph, whom she later divorced.
Later in life
In 1951 Helen first met Solly Sachs when she applied for the job of Secretary-Director of the Medical Aid Society of the Transvaal Clothing Society. At the time, Sachs was the head of the Garment Workers’ Union.
Appalled by conditions for black South Africans, she fought side by side with activists to gain them greater rights, such as health care, freedom of speech, racial equality and women’s rights. She was a founder member of the Congress of Democrats, and one of the leaders who read out the clauses of the Freedom Charter at the Congress of the People in Kliptown in 1955. Appalled by the plight of black women, she played a pivotal role, along with Lillian Ngoyi, in the formation of the Federation of South African Women. With its leadership, she spearheaded a March of 20,000 women on August 9, 1956, to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against the pass laws. This day is still celebrated as South Africa’s National Women’s Day.
Happy birthday Helen Joseph