Charlotte Maxeke

Morgan Jonas

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Charlotte Maxeke was born in Ramokgopa in 1874. She received an missionary education in 1880 and later became a teacher in 1885. Being a dedicated churchgoer, she, along with her sister joined the African Jubilee Choir 1891 and jour England for two years. In 1894 Maxeke went the the USA to pursue an education. She graduated from Wilberforce University with a B.Sc degree and returned to South Africa in 1901 with her husband, Marshall Maxeke, becoming South Africa's first black woman graduate.


Upon her return to South Africa, Charlotte Maxeke became very involved and a very important figure to the liberation movement. She attended the launch of the South African Native National Congress (SANNC) in 1912, and the following year, Maxeke being an early opponent of passes for black women, helped organize the anti-pass movement in Bloemfontein, which proved to be a success. Then in 1918 she founded the Bantu Women's League, which was created in protest of the carrying of passes by black women. In 1920, Maxeke participated in the formation of the Industrial and Commercial Workers' Union (ICU). In 1928 she set up an employment agency for Africans in Johannesburg, and in 1935 she is the first president of the National Council for African Women.

Significance To Anti-Apartheid Movement

Charlotte Maxeke was extremely significant to the apartheid movement in many different ways. Firstly, she was the beginning of the women getting involved in the liberation movement, this gave the other anti-apartheid groups more numbers and support. She started organizations of her own to encourage more and more women to get involved. Not only did she bring women into the movement, but she also got other races involved in fighting the unjust laws which helped the overall movement significantly. By doing all this she allowed the cause to become more widely known.

Video below of footage of the protests and marches that Charlotte Maxeke organized with the Bantu Women's League

Struggle stalwart Charlotte Maxeke honoured