South African activist Maxine Hart will deliver Ruth First Memorial Lecture Thursday

She'll discuss her struggle against apartheid and racism

Maxine Hart

The 2010 Ruth First Memorial Lecture will be delivered by Maxine Hart, a Jewish anti-apartheid activist and former political prisoner, who will speak about the struggle against apartheid, her 156 days in solitary confinement, and how racism and multiracialism affected the struggle in South Africa.

Her talk will be delivered in International Lounge of Usdan Student Center at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 29. A light supper will follow.

Hart was convicted in 1985 of furthering the aims of the African National Congress (ANC), the outlawed organization which, under Nelson Mandela, would form the first majority-rule government of South Africa. Her three-year sentence was suspended, but Hart was subsequently rearrested under emergency laws.

She served as a deputy director of the independent commission that organized the first election after the fall of apartheid, and subsequently was a consultant to ANC officials restructuring the South African state- in particular the welfare department.

Hart currently lives in Newton, Mass. and is director of human resources at Manet Community Health Center, which provides care for medically underserved residents of Boston’s South Shore.

Ruth First
                Ruth First
Ruth First was a white, Jewish South African who was dedicated to the freedom of all South Africans. The child of Communist South Africans, she devoted her life to the Communist Party and, as the Johannesburg reporter for the radical weekly Guardian, exposed the Bethal farm labor scandal, in which persons sentenced for petty offences under the Pass Laws were covertly sent to work in terrible conditions in farm-prisons. She helped to organize the resulting potato boycott campaign. The newspaper was repeatedly banned and reappeared under different names.

In 1963, First was arrested, imprisoned and released on condition that she would leave South Africa permanently. She continued to work against apartheid in exile in Mozambique, where she was killed by a letter bomb in 1982.

The endowment supporting the lecture series was established by Rose Schiff, Eileen Schiff Wingard, and Zina Schiff Eisenberg in memory of their beloved daughter and sister, Louise Joy Schiff. It provides for annual lectures on black liberation in southern Africa. The Department of African and Afro-American Studies --specifically the late professor Glenda Waite and professor Wellington Nyangoni -- decided to name it in memory of Ruth First.

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