A traveling exhibition highlighting the work of Helen Suzman, a former South African parliamentarian who devoted her life to fighting apartheid laws comes to UT Dallas next week.
“Helen Suzman: Fighter for Human Rights” showcases four decades of photographs, personal letters, speeches and news articles, capturing Suzman’s strength during constant animosity, anti-Semitism and intimidation from her South African colleagues and citizens.
Suzman served in the South African Parliament for 36 years (1953-89), including a 13-year period as the governing body’s only member of the Progressive Party and the sole opposition condemning apartheid. She was nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize.
The exhibition also highlights Suzman’s enduring friendship with former South African President Nelson Mandela, which began in 1967 when the two met during his incarceration at the Robben Island Prison. The exhibit opens Monday in the Edith O’Donnell Arts and Technology Building and runs until March 27.
“It is a privilege to celebrate the achievements and call attention to the ideals of this great humanitarian who reminds us of the enduring importance of, in her words, ‘the old-fashioned liberal values’ that should vivify every culture,” said Dr. Dennis M. Kratz, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities and the Ignacy and Celina Rockover Professor of Humanities at UT Dallas.
In conjunction with the opening, UT Dallas is hosting “The Helen Suzman Forum on Life Under Apartheid,” a panel discussion that includes South African natives who lived under apartheid laws. The forum will be Wednesday in the Edith O’Donnell Arts and Technology Building. A reception will start at 6 p.m., and the discussion will begin at 7:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
The panelists for the event are:
Peter Anderson: A native of Johannesburg, South Africa, Anderson came to the U.S. for a Fulbright scholarship at Boston University, where he completed his master’s and PhD in English, before returning to work at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. In 2006, he became associate professor at Austin College, where he teaches post-colonial literature. He is also the author of The Unspeakable, which won the 2013 Alex La Guma award.
Lorimer Arendse: Arendse, who is from Cape Town, South Africa, came to the U.S. in 1988, when he was 16 years old. He came to Dallas in 2007 from Ohio to serve as associate principal at Grapevine High School. He is currently the principal at Grand Prairie High School.
Warren Harmel: Harmel is from Johannesburg and Cape Town. He has a bachelor’s from the University of Cape Town and was a member of the Young Progressive Party in Johannesburg, where he interacted with Helen Suzman. He immigrated to Texas in 1986 for work with an advertising agency. He is now an advertising consultant.
Harshad Lalloobhai: Lalloobhai is from Johannesburg. He came to Texas in 1984 with American Corporation. He currently owns retail shops and hotels.
Dr. Peter Lewin: Lewin is from Johannesburg. He came to the U.S. for a job in 1979, when he was 23. He has studied the economics of apartheid and is currently clinical professor of managerial economics at UT Dallas.
The moderator for the forum will be Dr. Jill E. Kelly, assistant professor of South African history at Southern Methodist University.
The exhibition is sponsored by the M.B. & Edna Zale Foundation. For more information, visithelensuzmanexhibition.com.