The third Seattle Women’s March took place Jan. 19 earlier this year. Among the protesters — who marched down East Pine Street wearing pink hats and holding signs with slogans like “the future is female” — was Neroli Price.
This was Neroli’s first time protesting in Seattle since moving to the city in 2018. Everything about the experience felt new, except for the very act of marching itself. That’s because Neroli grew up in “the protest capital of the world”: South Africa.
As Neroli explains, South Africa’s “democracy is just 25 years old.” Before 1994, the country was ruled by a white minority government that instituted the policy of apartheid, a system premised on violence and racism. In this context, Neroli says, “taking to the streets became the only way for black South Africans to to be seen and heard.”
This tradition has carried over into the democratic era alongside the racial inequalities that stubbornly persist today. As a result, “for South Africans protesting is an intergenerational legacy.”
As Neroli discovered, it took moving halfway around the world, to see her home in a new way: “I realized that what I had grown up with, what had always felt natural to me, was so specific to a time and place.”
If you want to learn more about the fascinating role of music in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, watch Lee Hirsch’s 2002 documentary, “Amandla: A Revolution in Four Part Harmony.”