Suzman (née Gavronsky), Helen

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

SUZMAN (née Gavronsky), HELEN

SUZMAN (née Gavronsky ), HELEN (1917– ), South African politician and parliamentarian of liberal views. Born in Germiston, Transvaal, she lectured on economic history at the University of the Witwatersrand. She was first elected to Parliament as a member of the United Party, the official opposition (1953), but, with 12 other members, broke away in 1959, because of differences on race policies. They formed the Progressive Party and continued to sit in Parliament as a separate opposition group. Helen Suzman was reelected for the same constituency (Houghton) as a candidate of the Progressives in 1961, the only Progressive candidate to be successful. She was the sole representative of her party in Parliament for a total of 13 years until the election of 1974, when a further six Progressive candidates were elected to the house. A formidable debater, she was a determined opponent of discrimination based on race or color, and a champion of the rights of the African people. At the time of her resignation from Parliament in 1989, Suzman was the longest-serving South African mp. Her struggle for equal rights for South Africa's people of color resulted in her receiving two nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize as well as over 28 honorary degrees, including honorary doctorates from Oxford (1973), Harvard (1976), and Witwatersrand (1976) universities. She wrote two autobiographies, Time Remembered (1968) and In No Uncertain Terms (1993).

[David Saks (2nd ed.)]

More From Encyclopedia.com


MORE ON THIS TOPIC