American Philosophical Society
Member History

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503. Administrators, Bankers and Opinion Leaders from the Public or Private Sectors[X]
1Name:  Ms. Helen Suzman
 Institution:  Helen Suzman Foundation
 Year Elected:  2008
 Class:  5. The Arts, Professions, and Leaders in Public & Private Affairs
 Subdivision:  503. Administrators, Bankers and Opinion Leaders from the Public or Private Sectors
 Residency:  International
 Living? :   Deceased
 Birth Date:  1917
 Death Date:  January 1, 2009
In thirty-six years as a member of the South African Parliament, Helen Suzman worked tirelessly to bring democracy to her native land. The sole parliamentarian unequivocally opposed to apartheid from 1961 to 1974, she stood alone, in a divided, patriarchal society, as a progressive voice for equality and human rights. Confronting difficult and unpopular issues head on, she fought for universal suffrage, visited prisons and publicly challenged pro-apartheid officials. In a famous exchange with a fellow parliamentarian who suggested that her questions embarrassed her country overseas, Suzman replied, "It is not my questions that embarrass South Africa,­ it is your answers." In 1996 Suzman stood with Nelson Mandela as he signed South Africa's new constitution. Since then, she has founded her own foundation to further promote the principles - liberty, equality, empowerment for the powerless - to which she devoted her political career. A two-time nominee for the Nobel Prize, Helen Suzman was voted one of the "100 Greatest South Africans" of all time in 2004. She was elected an international member of the American Philosophical Society in 2008.
Election Year
2008 (1)