THE LIFE OF MADIE HALL XUMA, Black women's global activism during Jim Crow and apartheid

: Hendricks (W.)

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288pp., illus., paperback, Urbana, 2022


Madie Hall Xuma (1894-1982) was born in North Carolina and grew up in Jim Crow America. She married South African physician and ANC activist Alfred Bitini Xuma in 1940, after moving to South Africa. She was the first President of the ANC Women’s League from 1943 to 1949.

She drew on her experience with American clubs for black women to help establish the Zenzele self-help clubs in South Africa. In 1951, she affiliated the Zenzele Movement with the world YWCA, and in 1955 was elected president of the national council of the South African Young Women's Christian Association. After Alfred Xuma's death in 1962, she returned to North Carolina.

"An amazing narrative undergirded by unparalleled research on Hall Xuma and the locations in which the story takes place. This book allows the reader to immerse themself in life as it was lived in Jim Crow and in apartheid. Despite the fact that it centers on one woman, the author has taken great care to create both of the worlds in which Hall Xuma lived, as well as a non-geographical world of Black women’s affiliations, social service activities, families, and friendships. Hendricks has been ambitious, and it has paid off." Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore, author of Defying Dixie: The radical roots of civil rights, 1919–1950

"The Life of Madie Hall Xuma is the long-overdue first biography of a remarkable leader who fought across the global stage for racial justice, gender equity, and human rights in Jim Crow America and apartheid South Africa. Madie Hall Xuma has heretofore been ignored by scholars of American history and known primarily to South Africanists as the second wife of former African National Congress president Alfred B. Xuma, but Hendricks's intimate portrayal of Hall Xuma's compelling transnational political, civic, religious, and domestic life powerfully illustrates the intertwined histories of African and African American women’s political activism across the global color line." Robert Trent Vinson, author of Albert Luthuli: Mandela before Mandela.

Wanda Hendricks is Distinguished Professor Emerita of History at the University of South Carolina. Her books include Fannie Barrier Williams: Crossing the borders of region and race and gender and Race and Politics in the Midwest: Black Club women in Illinois.