Undergraduate Institution: Xavier University (Louisiana) (HBCU)
Photo Credit: Facing History and Ourselves
Ms. Caroline Hunter is a chemist, anti-apartheid activist and educator, and co-founder of the Polaroid Revolutionary Workers Movement (PRWM). To standardize film exposure, Polaroid originally used the “Shirley” photo, which was an image of a White woman. This resulted in darker skin colors being underexposed, as the White woman’s image and skin tone was standardized as the norm for photography. As Polaroid cameras became more popular, the South African government used their boost button (extra flash) to take passbook photos of Black South Africans. These passbooks were what were required of all Black South Africans in order to move throughout the country during apartheid for government monitoring and control. Realizing this, Ms. Hunter founded PRWM in 1970 with Ken Williams, which became the first American group to challenge their employer’s investments in South Africa. The next year, both were fired. However, their work brought attention to Polaroid’s refusal to divest in South Africa, and in 1977 (following public knowledge of this), the company divested.