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Mary Burton (1940 – )

The Order of Luthuli in

Mary Burton (1940 – ) Awarded for:
Raising the conscience of South Africans against the evils of Apartheid and for outstanding contribution to National Reconciliation, Nation Building and Peace.
Mary Burton, a native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, moved to South Africa in 1961 where she became immersed in the struggle for human rights. She became a leading figure in the Black Sash, an antiapartheid organisation formed by white South African women to protest human rights violations.

Burton served as president of the Black Sash from 1986 to 1990 – an organisation Nelson Mandela called ‘the conscience of white South Africa. In 1995, she was appointed a Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and served on its Human Rights Committee. In 2000, she helped launch the ‘Home for All Campaign’, which called primarily on white South Africans to contribute to the reconciliation of South Africa in recognition of the benefits they had received from racial privilege under Apartheid.

Mary Burton currently serves as Deputy Chairperson of the Council of the University of Cape Town.