Trip sponsored by the U.S. Consulate in Cape Town
Eight years ago, three 10-year-old girls from Manenberg founded BRAVE, a non-profit organisation dedicated to inspiring, empowering and investing in girl leaders.
Originally it functioned to create safe spaces for girls, but as they grew older and the obstacles they faced as young women expanded, BRAVE has evolved and adapted to meet their wider range of needs.
Today, through travel, education and adventure, BRAVE creates opportunities for girls and young women and exposes them to worldwide issues facing girls, reinforcing the importance of sisterhood and leadership and building a network of girls and women globally.
BRAVE’s most recent adventure consisted of a two-way road-trip exchange, taking American girls to South Africa and South African girls to the US.
The aim was to encourage political participation by girls by sharing their similar historical struggles of civil rights abuses, social injustices and racial inequality in South Africa’s apartheid struggle and the US civil rights movement. The trip was sponsored by the US Consulate in Cape Town.
From September 28 up to this month, 18 girls from South Africa and the US embarked on the last leg of the trip exchange – the American South.
We travelled from the site of the first student sit-in in Nashville, Tennessee, to Montgomery, Selma, and Gee’s Bend, Alabama, ending in Oxford, Mississippi.
This is where the racial integration of the University of Mississippi in 1962 led to the death of the only journalist killed in the civil rights movement and where African American students still struggle with the legacy of racism.
All these locations played a pivotal role in the civil rights movement and the social injustices and racial inferiority that ran rampant through the American South, beginning with the slave trade, through Jim Crow laws and continuing today through mass incarceration.
These injustices were reinforced by the exhibition at the Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration in Montgomery, Alabama, that walked the girls through the pervading repercussions of slavery, lynching and racial segregation to present-day issues of racial inequality and economic injustice that is specifically visible in the American criminal justice system.
This institutionalised racism as a result of history applies to present-day South Africa as well.