Molly Blackburn 2001


Dr Molly Blackburn was born Molly Bellhouse in Port Elizabeth on the 12th of November 1930.  By the time of her death in 1985, she had acquired yet another name, Nosizwe, the “Mother of the World”. This name was earned through her implacable opposition to apartheid, her bravery when taking on its henchmen, be they the police, the army, or the government, and her championing of the oppressed majority
Brought up in a liberal family, she became involved with the Black Sash, and would remain so throughout her life. By 1981, however, she had won a Provincial Council seat (Walmer) for the Progressive Federal Party (PFP) but was unhappy at that party’s concentration on issues affecting only the white minority. So, in 1982, when the Black Sash Advice Office first opened its doors in Port Elizabeth, she was there. She participated in the formation of the Cradock Residents Association, a key player in the fight against injustice and racism in rural towns in the Eastern Cape. She hounded the Security Police into admitting that they had murdered the group’s key organisers (known as the Cradock Four). With the support of fellow PFP members in Parliament, she forced the government to enquire into the 1985 Langa massacre.
Labelled as a troublemaker by the authorities, she received death threats and was arrested several times.  On the 28th of December 1985, Molly Blackburn, along with Brian Bishop, was killed in a car accident while driving back to Port Elizabeth from Oudtshoorn. Her funeral was attended by 20 000 people: a fitting farewell to a woman described as being one to “plunge head first – and heart full”. 
Dr Molly Blackburn received an honorary doctorate (posthumous) from the University of Port Elizabeth in 2001, in recognition of her outstanding leadership in peace and non-violence.