Internet giant Google is celebrating the 151st birthday of Charlotte Maxeke, popularly known as the “Mother of Black Freedom”. Maxeke was a scholar, an evangelist, a political activist, as well as an advocate for women’s rights. She was also the first black woman to graduate with a university degree in South Africa.
Her doodle was illustrated by South African artist Pola Maneli.
Maxeke was born in Fort Beaufort, Eastern Cape on April 7, 1871. According to Google, she followed in her parents’ footsteps – her mother was a teacher, her father a preacher. By age 20, Maxeke was invited to sing and tour Britain and the United States as part of the African Jubilee Choir.
While in the United States, the choir’s tour was cut short, but Maxeke decided to stay behind as her sights were set on the opportunity to study in America. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Wilberforce University in 1903 and is recognized as the first Black South African woman to graduate from the school, as well as the first with a university degree in America, Google added.
After her return from the U.S., Maxeke settled in Johannesburg and became involved in the country’s political and social rights movements. She attended the launch of the South African Native National Congress (SANCC) in Bloemfontein in 1912. As an avid opponent of the dompas, a pass that regulated and limited the freedom of Black South Africans (especially women), Maxeke helped organize the anti-dompas movement in 1913. She also founded the Bantu Women’s League of the SANCC in 1918.
According to Wikipedia, Maxeke’s name has been given to the former Johannesburg General Hospital which is now known as the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital. The South African Navy submarine SAS Charlotte Maxeke is named after her.
She died in 1939 in Johannesburg at the age of 68.