19 January 1940
Maria Burton was born on 19 January 1940 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She moved to South Africa in 1961, and upon witnessing the injustices of Apartheid, became a member of the Black Sash in 1965. Founded ten years prior to Burton's membership, the Black Sash was a women's anti-Apartheid movement that initially sought to protest against the Separate Representation of Voter's Bill. It soon grew into a momentous organization, with its members opposing discriminatory policies through marches, demonstrations and vigils. These were characterized by the wearing of black sashes and by silently standing outside public buildings in major cities. Among the leaders of the Black Sash were Jean Sinclair and her daughter Sheena Duncan, as well as Maria Burton, who acted as its national president from 1985 - 1990. The Black Sash is still in existence and still aims to fight against discrimination and human rights abuses in South Africa. One of its functions is to provide free legal advice and paralegal support.