Weinberg Memorial Library Exhibit Honors Fighter for Human Rights

Sep 2, 2010

        The University of Scranton’s Weinberg Memorial Library will host an international traveling exhibit that profiles one of South Africa’s most vociferous and energetic opponents of apartheid. The “Helen Suzman: Fighter for Human Rights” exhibit will be on display in the fifth-floor Heritage Room from Aug. 31 to Oct. 25.

        The exhibit, which features 29 hanging panels utilizing photographs, personal letters, and political speeches, portrays Suzman’s often solitary fight within the South African Parliament against apartheid; her work with anti-apartheid activists outside the government; and her friendship with Nelson Mandela, after meeting him in 1967 at the Robben Island prison. It portrays the hostility and anti-Semitism she faced during her 36-year career in parliament (1953-1989) and while fighting apartheid.

        Suzman, who was nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her contribution to the pursuit of justice in South Africa, 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. Suzman died on Jan. 1, 2009, at the age of 91.

         The exhibit was conceptualized, researched and written by Millie Pimstone, graphically designed by Linda Bester, and developed by the Isaac Jesse Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies and Research at the University of Cape Town.

        The United States tour of the exhibition is sponsored by the Dobkin Family Foundation and the Tolan Family Foundation. The Scranton visit of the exhibit is supported by a Diversity Initiatives Fund grant from the University’s Office of Equity and Diversity.

        An exhibit reception is planned for 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 15. The reception will include a lecture by George Washington University Assistant Professor of Sociology Fran Buntman, Ph.D. Dr. Buntman has a specific interest in apartheid and is the author of “Robben Island and Prisoner Resistance to Apartheid.” The reception, which is free of charge and open to the public, is sponsored by the Schemel Forum and the Friends of the Weinberg Memorial Library.

        The exhibit can be seen free of charge during library hours. For additional information, please contact Michael Knies, associate professor and special collections librarian, at 941-6341.


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