Pamela Brooks, the associate professor of African American Studies at Oberlin College came to campus on Tuesday, Sept. 29 in the Center for Diversity and Global Engagement to discuss highlights from her book, ìBoycotts, Buses and Passes: Black Womenís Resistance in the U.S. South and South Africa.”
In her presentation, ìSisters Doiní It For Themselves And Us: Black Womanís Resistance in the U.S. South and South Africa,” Brooks presented research from the book, which is a comparative treatment of black womenís political activism during the 1950s and earlier in Alabama and South Africa.
The title, which is based on an Aretha Franklinís Black feminist song establishes that the ìact of respect is a two-way street,” according to Brookes.† Brookes started the presentation with an illustrated slide show exhibiting pictures of various Black woman activists such as Rosa Parks and Septima Poinsette Clark.
What started with one woman refusing to give up her seat on a† bus exploded into a passive form of resistance that known as the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama.† Over the span of a year from 1955 to 1956 women came out in their heels, hats, scarves and purses to express who they were and that they werenít going to set foot on a bus.† These woman used ìpeace as a political tool.” According to Brooks, ìeven when these woman engaged in political work they could be soon as respectable in society.”
While political activism was occurring in the southern United States the wave of passive protest was washing up in Southern Africa as well.† On Aug. 9, 1956, African women marched to Pretoria to ìprotest against the use of passes or ëdirty documents of slavery,” according to Kate Mxakatho, an activist who was later tried for treason for her opposition to the passbooks.
After presenting her presentation Brooks stood in front of the room, sighed and said, ìI just want them to be remembered; once you organize them you can never stop.”† As Brooks wrapped up she imposed upon the audience that, ìthe woman activists who boycotted segregated buses and burned their passes in protest against white supremacist systems that oppressed them serve as models for the present generation of successful forms of organizing and protest.”