Palmer, Josephine

Mpama, Josie 1903–1979, anti-apartheid activist. Mpama was a pioneer of women's rights in South Africa and a labor advocate. Born Josephine Palmer in 1903 in Potchefstroom, Transvaal (a province of South Africa until 1994), she would later adopt the last name "Mpama." Mpama joined the CommunistParty of South Africa (CPSA) in the 1920s. Throughout the following decade Mpama wrote for the CPSA's journal, Umsebenzi, in which she highlighted the oppression of Black workers. By the 1940s, she was a member of the CPSA's Johannesburg committee, becoming the first Black woman to play a significant role in the organization. Mpama was an integral figure in establishing the Federation of South African Women (FEDSAW) in 1954. She also served as the President of the Transvaal branch of the FEDSAW. Mpama was detained during the state of emergency declared after the Sharpeville massacre in 1960. She dedicated her career to the fight against discrimination and encouraged Black women to participate in South African politics.

See R. R. Edgar, Josie Mpama/Palmer: Get Up and Get Moving (2020); D. Y. Curry, Social Justice at Apartheid's Dawn: African Women Intellectuals and the Quest to Save the Nation (2021); D. Featherstone et al., ed. Revolutionary Lives of the Red and Black Atlantic since 1917 (2022).

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