Topic 3: Civil society protests 1950s to 1970s

Online Resource:[Accessed 25 February 2015]

  • The above video resource provides useful hints / study tips before embarking on grade 12 History.

Before we begin, and to clear any confusion, we must understand what the term ‘civil society’ means.

community of citizens linked by common interests and collective activity.”

Source: [ Accessed 25 February 2015]

What forms of civil society protest emerged from the 1960s to 1990?

Background and focus

The Second World War had been fought to attain democracy but it did not deliver lasting peace or a better society.

After the war:

  1. women in growing economies were beginning to do paid work outside the home,

  2. youth were more critical of their parents ‘generation and increasingly became aware of injustices, racism and human rights violations;

  3. a counter culture started to emerge.

The section on women’s identity in South Africa is closely linked with the study of Apartheid in Grade 11 (Topic 5). In this section, learners should analyse the civic action taken in the context of the overall theme of this topic.

The following is to be covered in this topic:

Introduction: Overview of civil society protests

”Women’s liberation and feminist movements in the 1960s and 1970s: a middle class movement in industrialised countries;

Online Resource:[ Accessed 25 February 2015]

”Women’s identity in South Africa from the 1950s to 1970s – black women see themselves first as black, and white women see themselves first as white; trade unionism, women workers, their economic role in the rural areas and in the informal sector; as political anti-pass campaigners, initiatives taken within the liberation struggle, including the middle class Black Sash;

Online Resource: [ Accessed 25 February 2015]

  • Women and the anti-pass campaign

  • The Defiance Campaign is launched and women step forward

  • The Federation of South African Women ( FSAW or FEDSAW)

  • Women’s role in the Congress of the Party and the Freedom Charter

  • The women’s 1955 anti-pass campaign

  • Preparations for the 1956 Women’s March

Black Sash

Source: [ Accessed 25 February 2015]

“The Black Sash was formed in 1955 and it began as a tea party of six women, Jean Sinclair, Ruth Foley, Elizabeth McLaren, Tertia Pybus, Jean Bosazza and Helen Newton-Thompson. The women were opposed to the Senate Bill which asked for a two thirds majority of both houses of parliament to remove people described as 'coloured' from the common voters’ role. The organisation grew into an avenue for liberal women to oppose government policies by means of marches, convoys, demonstrations and vigils. This was the founding of the Women’s Defence of the Constitution, the symbol of the organisation, a constitution draped in a black sash, showed their mourning of the constitution. The media soon nicknamed the organisation the “Black Sash” referring to the black sashes that members draped over their right shoulder during protest demonstrations.”

Source: [Accessed 25 February 2015]

”the peace movements: disarmament; students and anti-war movements; and

Online Resources:

  1. [Accessed 25 February 2015]

  2. [ Accessed 25 February 2015]

Civil rights movements.

Case Study: the US Civil Rights Movement


Source:[ Accessed 25 February 2015]

This section includes:

Reasons and origins of the Civil Rights Movement in the USA (background information only);

Online Resource:

  1.[Accessed [25 February 2015]

  2.[25 February 2015]

  3. [25 February 2015]

The role, impact and influence of Martin Luther King Junior; and the influence of passive resistance (Gandhi) on MartinLuther King;

Gandhi ...influencing Martin Luther King Junior

Online Resource:

  1.[25 February 2015]

  2.[ Accessed 25 February 2015]

Forms of protest through civil disobedience: Montgomery bus boycott, sit-ins, marches including to Lincoln Memorial,

Source:[Accessed 25 February 2015]

Online Resource:[Accessed 25 February 2015]

  • Montgomery Boycott

Online Resource:

  1.[Accessed 25 February 2015]

  1.[Accessed 25 February 2015]

Video: [Accessed 25 February 2015]

  • Birmingham campaign and Selma-Montgomery marches;

Online Resources:

  1.[ Accessed 25 February 2015]

  1. [ Accessed 25 February 2015]

School desegregation: case study (Little Rock, Arkansas); and

Video:[ Accessed 25 February 2015]

Short-term and long-term gains.

Case Study: the Black Power Movement

Source:[ Accessed 25 February 2015]

This section includes:

Reasons for the movement; [ Accessed 25 February 2015]

Black Panther[ Accessed 25 February 2015]

Roles of Stokely Carmichael and Malcolm X; and

1.[ Accessed 25 February 2015]

2.[ Accessed 25 February 2015]

3.[ Accessed 25 February 2015]

Source:[ Accessed 25 February 2015]

Short-term and long-term gains.


Overview of the progress, if any, that was made towards equality and civil rights by the civil rights and Black Power movements.

While African-American members of the US population have made great strides, recent events in the USA have suggested that unhealthy tension (violent) still exists in the USA today.

It would be useful for educators to divide students into groups to debate this topic. Instead of using such a general approach, perhaps categorise the advancement of people of colour in the USA in different spheres of private and public life.

Constructive debate should be encouraged, as well as a safe environment for learners to ventilate their views, in a respectful manner. This topic is particularly relevant for South Africa. If History is meant to teach us about the further, then we need to pay attention to it.

Exam preparation

Online Resource: [ Accessed 25 February 2015]

Collections in the Archives