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A Decade of Freedom Celebrating the Role of the International

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A Decade of Freedom Celebrating the Role of the International ...

    A Decade of Freedom: Celebrating the Role of the

    International Anti-Apartheid Movement in South Africa’s Freedom Struggle

    University of KwaZulu-Natal, Westville Campus

    Durban, South Africa, October 10 13, 2004

    Documenting the U.S. Solidarity Movement

    With reflections on the sanctions and divestment campaigns

    By Richard Knight

    Project Director

    African Activist Archive Project

As someone who was active in the struggle against apartheid inside South Africa and

    later for two decades in the U.S., I believe it is extremely important that the history of the

    solidarity movement be documented.”

     Dumisani S. Kumalo, South African Ambassador to the UN, letter to David Wiley,

    20 December 2002.

Overview of the U.S. Movement

The U.S. anti-apartheid movement, part of a broader movement in support of African

    struggles against colonialism and for self-determination and democracy, played an

    important part in the world-wide solidarity movement with the liberation struggle inside

    South Africa.

As a background to current efforts to preserve the history of the U.S. anti-apartheid

    movement it is important to understand its origin and structure. Significant solidarity was

    sparked in the early 1950s in support of the Campaign of Defiance of Unjust Laws 1initiated by the African National Congress (ANC). It led to the founding of the American Committee on Africa (ACOA) which played a major role in the U.S. anti-2apartheid movement. Many of the founders of ACOA were involved in the U.S. civil

    rights movement and this connection between the U.S. struggle and the solidarity 3movement remained an important feature of U.S. anti-apartheid activities.

A major challenge to documenting the record of this activity is the diversity of the U.S.

    movement. There were hundreds of organization and numerous individuals involved

    over a long period of time. Most of these groups were local operating in one city or 4state or within one institution such as a college or church. These groups were independent of, but often worked closely with, national organizations such as ACOA and 5TransAfrica. There were engaged student, religious, human rights and community

    organizations in virtually every state and city in the country. Some groups were

    exclusively African-American, others were ethnically mixed. Some organizations were

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specifically formed with an African-related agenda; others already existed and took up

    the cause of African self-determination. Frequently these organizations formed coalitions

    to achieve a particular goal such as the adoption of a divestment policy by a particular

    state, city or institution. These organizations produced newsletters, pamphlets, leaflets,

    policy papers, meeting minutes, strategy papers, correspondence and other material

    including posters, photos and videos. Many were ad hoc in nature and no longer exist,

    but individuals associated with those groups preserved vital records.

The U.S. anti-apartheid movement responded to the South African liberation movements 6 U.S. groups focused on a broad range of campaigns in call to isolate South Africa.

    support of the economic, sports and cultural boycott, against forced removals, detentions 7and the execution of freedom fighters.

Sanctions and Divestment

    By the 1970s a major focus was on economic links especially U.S. banks making loans to and companies doing business in apartheid South Africa. For decades apartheid South 8Africa relied on transnational corporations for capital and technology. Activists seeking

    to stop corporate collaboration with apartheid, finding the way blocked in Washington, 9developed other strategies for exerting pressure on the corporations. One major focus of

    this effort was the divestment campaign, aimed at moving individuals and institutions to

    sell their holdings in companies doing business in South Africa. The goal of the 10divestment campaign was to get companies to disinvest from South Africa. There were

    campaigns against specific companies, especially those seen as especially important

    including Chase Manhattan, Citibank and Manufacturers Hanover (major lenders to

    South Africa), Mobil and Shell (which sold petroleum products to the police and military), 11Ford and General Motors (which sold vehicles to the police and military) and IBM and

    Control Data (which sold/leased computers to the government including the military and 12prisons). There were also active and effective campaigns against sales of the 13Krugerrand gold coin.

Based on my own experience, let me give you three examples of areas where ACOA and

    other organizations worked closely to achieve significant victories.

    College & University Divestment Campaign: Following the Soweto uprising in 1976, student activity on college and university campuses increased dramatically. Almost

    every college had one or more organization. Their activities were very public and had an

    important impact. Students engaged in numerous types of protest such as occupying

    administrative offices, sit-ins and building shanties replicas of South African squatter camps. ACOA speakers talked on colleges across the U.S. and in 1979 ACOA started

    publishing Student Anti-Apartheid Newsletter which reported on the activities on various campuses. ACOA held numerous student conferences and coordinated a series of weeks

    of action from March 21 (Sharpeville Day) to April 4 (the anniversary of the

    assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.). ACOA also played an important role talking 14students though issues such as how to respond to the Sullivan Principles. Student

    protests surged again after 1984 and the number of colleges and universities at least

    partially divesting jumped from 53 prior to April 1985 to 128 by February 1987 to 155 by

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August 1988. There were independent anti-apartheid committees/organizations at most of

    these campuses.

Bank Campaign: In 1966 ACOA and the University Christian Movement initiated the

    Committee of Conscience Against Apartheid to oppose a $40 million revolving credit by

    a consortium of ten U.S. banks to the South African government. Churches and

    community groups joined the campaign. Some $23 million was withdrawn from the from

    the U.S. banks involved. The campaign continued until the credit was terminated in 151969. Again in 1973 ACOA and churches put together a campaign when it came to

    light that through the European-American Banking Corporation (EABC) forty banks,

    including 11 from the U.S., made $70 million in loans to the South African government.

    After protests in the U.S. and Europe EABC wrote ―under the present circumstances we

    have decided not to grant any credits to South Africa other than those for the financing of 16current trade.‖ In 1977, ACOA and Clergy and Laity Concerned initiated the

    Committee to Oppose Bank Loans to South Africa (COBLSA). The campaign was

    sparked when U.S. bank lending to South Africa jumped to $1.8 billion in 1975 from just 17under $l billion in 1974. COBLSA built a broad based membership among labor,

    church and community organizations. As a result many local organizations took up the

    issue of loans, focusing on the banks in their area. Within a few months nearly 50 were 18involved. Prexy Nesbitt and later Dumisani Kumalo on the ACOA staff served as

    national coordinator of the campaign. As coordinator their role was to maintain contact

    with the numerous organizations and individuals involved, share information, help

    develop strategy, publish newsletters and brochures and speak at venues across the

    country. In December 1984, Seafirst adopted a policy of no new loans to South Africa,

    followed by the Bank of Boston in March 1985 and First Bank System, also in 1985.

    Even more significantly, in July 1985, North Carolina National Bank Corp., the regional

    bank with the largest lending to South Africa and the only regional bank to have an office

    in South Africa, ended all new loans. Then in late July 1985 Chase Manhattan told its 19customers that it would not renew its loans. On September 1, faced with massive capital 20outflows the apartheid government was forced to declare a debt standstill.

    State and Municipal Government “People’s Sanctions”: The campaign to get state and municipal governments to take action against companies doing business in South 21Africa built on and overlapped with the student and bank campaigns. The three major types of action taken by states and cities involved were: 1) withdrawal of deposits and

    other business from banks making loans to South Africa 2) divestment of public pension

    funds from companies doing business in South Africa and 3) selective purchasing

    whereby the companies not doing business in South Africa were given preference in the 22bidding process for the purchase of goods and services. In June 1981 ACOA held the 23first Conference on Public Investment and South Africa that brought together state and 24municipal legislators, anti-apartheid activists, community organizers and trade unionists

    to jointly work together in support of legislation that would stop public funds from being 25invested in banks and corporations doing business in South Africa. Divestment from South Africa was linked to responsible investment in the U.S. Julian Bond, then a 26Georgia State Senator, gave the keynote address. Forty legislators from 14 states attended. At this time only one state Nebraska had adopted any anti-apartheid

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    27 A network of concerned legislators and anti-apartheid activists grew out of legislation.

    this conference. In April 1983 ACOA organized a second conference in Boston after

    Massachusetts became the first state to totally divest; Connecticut had partially divested 28the previous year. ACOA‘s Project Director Dumisani Kumalo, who organized the two

    conferences, played a central role in building the broad alliance which led states and

    cities to adopted anti-apartheid policies, traveling, speaking widely and meeting with 2930local activists. ACOA Executive Director Jennifer Davis and other staff testified before state legislatures, city councils and organizations such as the National Conference 31of State Legislatures and the National Black Caucus of State Legislators. ACOA‘s Public Investment and South Africa newsletter was mailed out to 600 people including

    local activists and hundreds of state legislators and city councilors. The success of the

    campaign rested on the work of hundreds of local groups. It often took years of

    organizing to get the legislation passed. And even the most committed state legislator or

    city councilor could not have taken action without strong support from their 32constituents. By 1991, 28 states, 24 counties, 92 cities and the Virgin Islands had 33adopted legislation or policies imposing some form of sanctions on South Africa.

Capital fight from South Africa

    Undoubtedly the greatest challenge to white minority rule came from the explosion of

    political resistance which followed Pretoria's introduction of a new constitution in 1983 34with a complex set of segregated parliaments. In a total rejection of apartheid, black South Africans mobilized to make the townships ungovernable, black local officials

    resigned in droves, and the apartheid regime sent thousands of troops into the townships

    to quell ―unrest.

By mid-1984 massive protests inside South Africa combined with escalating pressure

    internationally to force substantial capital flight and challenge the continuation of white

    minority rule. On July 20, 1985 President P.W. Botha imposed a State of Emergency,

    giving the police and military even greater repressive powers. Any hopes U.S. corporate

    executives might have had that P.W. Botha was a closet reformer and that apartheid

    would quietly wither away were dashed. Later that month Chase Manhattan told its 35customers it would not roll over their loans. On August 15, Botha made his famous

    Rubicon speech rejecting negotiations and the possibility of one person-one vote in a

    unitary state. On September 1, faced by the prospect of massive capital flight, the South

    African government imposed a debt standstill and re-imposed exchange controls. On

    September 9, in order to forestall stronger action by Congress, Reagan issued an 36executive order containing some sanctions.

The situation on the ground in South Africa and the local activity in the U.S. helped

    generate the thrust for a victory in 1986 when passage of the Comprehensive Anti-37Apartheid Act (CAAA) was won over the veto of President Reagan. What was remarkable about the veto override is that it required a two-thirds vote by both houses of 38Congress and at the time the Republican Party controlled the Senate. The Senate vote 39on October 2 was 78 to 21 and the House a week earlier had been 313 to 83. Virtually

    every member of Congress felt pressure from their home districts to do something about

    apartheid and cities and colleges in their districts were divesting. The Reagan policy of

     4

―constructive engagement‖ gave no political cover to Republicans once their constituents 40had been mobilized to challenge U.S. support for apartheid.

The passage of the CAAA represented the defeat of the Reagan policy of constructive

    engagement. By the time the CAAA became law banks had already stopped making

    loans to South Africa and companies were already disinvesting; the act encouraged this

    trend as well as imposing new restrictions on trade. Within less than three weeks after

    the veto override International Business Machines (IBM) and General Motors (GM) 41announced they were withdrawing from South Africa.

Many companies that disinvested from South Africa continued to do business in the

    country. For example, GM cars were made under license and IBM computers were sold

    by a distributor. As a result in January 1987 five national anti-apartheid organizations

    issued Guidelines for Divestment which stated that when companies withdrew from South Africa they should sever non-equity ties such as licensing and franchising

    agreements. The organizations were ACOA, the American Friends Service Committee,

    the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, TransAfrica and the Washington

    Office on Africa. The Guidelines were subsequently endorsed by a number of leading 42union and religious leaders.

More federal legislation was to come. In December 1987 Congress passed a tax bill that

    included an amendment introduced by Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY)

    eliminating the ability of U.S. companies to claim tax credits in the U.S. for taxes paid in

    South Africa. In the period 1980-1983, U.S. corporations paid well over half a billion

    into Apartheid‘s treasury. The Rangel amendment effectively imposed double taxation 43on U.S. corporate activities in South Africa.

By the end of 1987 more that 200 U.S. companies had withdrawn from South Africa.

    Net capital movement out of South Africa was R9.2 billion in 1985, R6.1 billion in 1986,

    R3.1 billion in 1987 and R5.5 billion in 1988.

In 1990 Nelson Mandela was released from prison and the ANC and other organizations

    unbanned. Following extended negotiations, the government agreed to an interim

    government until democratic elections. On September 24, 1993 Nelson Mandela called

    for the lifting of economic sanctions. That same day over 40 U.S. anti-apartheid leaders

    issued a statement that read Today those of us who have worked long and hard to end apartheid are pleased to be able to join Nelson Mandela, the African National Congress,

    the trade unions and the democratic movement in calling for an end to economic

    sanctions. This will not bring an end to our concern for the people of South Africa.

    Apartheid will leave a terrible and bitter legacy of inequality, injustice and poverty. We

    believe that Americans can contribute to overcoming that legacy. As sanctions are lifted

    we will urge corporations to uphold the standards set by the democratic forces in South

    Africa for socially responsible investment that will promote equal opportunity, workers‘ 44rights, environmental protection and community development.

     5

Documenting the record and activities of the U.S. movement

The U.S. anti-apartheid movement involved hundreds of diverse organizations and

    numerous individuals. The movement had a significant impact both on U.S. corporate

    involvement with apartheid South Africa and on U.S. policy. This democratization of

    foreign policy was unprecedented, and it is important that the lessons learned be

    documented for the benefit of ongoing social justice activism. There are three efforts

    underway that I will discuss here: the African Activist Archive Project, No Easy

    Victories and Aluka. None of these complementary efforts is focused solely on South

    Africa.

African Activist Archive Project

    The African Activist Archive Project (www.africanactivist.msu.edu) of the African

    Studies Center at Michigan State University is working to preserve for history the record

    of activities of U.S. organizations and individuals that supported African struggles for

    freedom and had significant collective impact on U.S. policy during the period 1950-

    1994. The project‘s website has been activated and will be enhanced over the coming

    year. It is already an important source for scholars in the U.S. and Africa.

The website includes the Directory of African Activist Archives which aims to list all

    collections of individuals and organizations involved in the solidarity movement that are

    already in a depositry institution. The material is widely distributed and no other central

    listing exists. The Directory includes a description of each collection including activities

    and achivements of the organization and individual as well as location and contact

    information to access the collection. The Directory will grow as we arrange for more

    collections to be placed in an archive, and include an international section for the

    archives of non-U.S. solidarity organizations.

A major challege for the project is identifying and locating the individuals and

    organizations with material in states and cities across the U.S. There were hundreds of

    solidarity orgranizations that no longer exist. Approaches will be made to local activists,

    community, religious, human rights and union leaders and state and municipal officials

    who were involved. The participation of these individuals and organizations will be

    crucial to the success of the project. A particular challege is student groups. Many have

    personal collections. As one person told me ―I do have a lot of information sitting in my

    garage. Periodically I'd think about dumping it, but then I'd go ‗no way...‘‖ To help us

    locate these people there are a series of online questionnaires on the project web site.

Once we have located people the next challenge is to get any material they have placed

    into an archive. We have already arranged for a number of important collections to be

    placed in a permanent archive. Most of these have been placed in the newly inaugurated

    African Activist Archive at Michigan State University Library which was established as a

    direct result of this project. It now includes the records of the Association of Concerned

    Africa Scholars, the Boston Coalition for the Liberation of Southern Africa and the South

    Africa archives of John Harrington (a California activist). We also helped place material

    of the Champaign-Urbana Coalition Against Apartheid in the library of the University of

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Illinois. A number of groups and individuals with whom we have been in touch such as

    the New York Labor Committee Against Apartheid and Educators Against Racism and

    Apartheid are now preparing their archives with our assistance.

The project is planning a series of historical remembrances by Africa activists of their

    activities and achievements which will be placed on the project‘s website. This will

    provide the activists themselves with a voice to explain how they operated and what they

    achieved. It will also allow for a record of the activities of individuals and organizations

    who do not have any archival material. A few have already been posted on the website.

    The project will also seek to conduct interviews with those who were involved. We plan

    to add audio material to the website a series of interviews conducted in South Africa in 1954 by George M. Houser, a founder and long-time director of ACOA, with leaders 45such as Chief Albert Luthuli, Walter Sisulu, Manilal Gandhi, and Prof. Z.K. Matthews.

The African Activist Archive Project is working to digitalize and post on the web key

    historical documents that were produced by solidarity organizations such as newsletters

    and publications. We are currently discussing with Aluka digitalizing all issues of

    Southern Africa magazine and the southern Africa-related publications and ephemera of 46the ACOA and The Africa Fund. These documents will be placed on both the Aluka and African Activist Archive Project websites. We also have permission to digitalize the

    newsletters of several local anti-apartheid organizations.

No Easy Victories

    No Easy Victories is a project of Solidarity Research and Writing

    (www.solidarityresearch.org) which developed initially as part of an effort to celebrate th47the 50 anniversary of the American Committee on Africa in 2003. The project is

    working on a book with the working title No Easy Victories: African Liberation and 48American Activists over a Half Century, 1950-2000. This book is intended to

    provide an inside view of the global movement that achieved its most dramatic victory

    with the fall of apartheid in South Africa. Work on this book began in 2003, under the

    auspices of Africa Action, in which ACOA had been merged. It will not be an

    organizational history but will place ACOA and related organizations in the context of a

    multi-faceted movement of solidarity with Africa. The book will include five chapters,

    roughly corresponding to the last five decades of the twentieth century, drawing on

    personal accounts of the period, from a diverse set of people involved at the national and

    local levels. The book editors are Charles Cobb Jr., Gail Hovey and William Minter;

    projected chapter authors are Lisa Brock, Mimi Edmunds, Joseph Jordan, David

    Goodman, and Walter Turner. All of those involved in the project have themselves been

    part of this activist history

In the process of preparing this book a number of interviews with U.S. activists have

    been conducted. Solidarity Research plans to make some of these interviews available on

    the web in the first half of 2005, and they are also expected to be included in the Aluka

    project archive on Struggles for Freedom in Southern Africa. A number of interviews

    have already been conducted. William Minter, who is Managing Editor of Solidarity

    Research, is here at the conference.

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Aluka

    Aluka (www.ithaka.org/aluka/index.htm) is working ―to build and support a sustainable,

    online database of scholarly resources from the developing world, beginning in Africa,

    with content that is important for research and teaching both in the countries of the region 49 They chose the name Aluka - in Zulu ―to and in the worldwide scholarly community.weave‖ – to reflect their mission to digitally aggregate scholarly content from around the

    world. Aluka also means, in the languages of northern Namibia ―to return‖ or ―to

    repatriate‖, reflecting the goal of making diverse material available to its place of origin.

By digitalizing content and making it available on the web it is seeking to both preserve

    material and make it easily and widely available especially in the developing world

    which is the focus of its work. The Aluka online database will be for non-commercial,

    educational purposes, primarily in higher education, including research and teaching at

    both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The digital database will be available on the

    web through academic, governmental and public institutions throughout the world. Aluka,

    which is affiliated with JSTOR and ARTstor, uses the JSTOR model in which access is 50limited to institutions which subscribe and pay an annual fee. As a nonprofit

    organization, the fees are intended to help offset the costs of providing access to the

    content so that the database can be sustainable over the long run. However, Aluka plans

    to make the material available related to a particular region in the developing world free

    though institutions in that region. Thus the material that relates to the liberation struggles

    in southern Africa will be free in southern Africa

The first regional focus of Aluka is Africa and one of its three topic areas (or ―content

    clusters‖) is the struggles for freedom in southern Africa - initially in Botswana, 51Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Aluka will not just focus on

    periodicals. It will digitalize historical documents, periodicals, personal papers of

    important historical figures, oral histories, photographs, and other visual materials.

    Aluka plans to add material from collections in North America and Europe. As noted

    above, this will include documents produced by U.S. solidarity organizations. It is

    currently projected that the Aluka website will go online by the end of 2005 or early 2006.

A regional partner of Aluka is Digital Imaging South Africa (DISA) (http://disa.nu.ac.za).

    DISA has already placed many anti-apartheid periodicals produced by South African

    organizations on the web.

Conclusion

U.S. solidarity organizations in states and cities across the U.S. played an important role

    in supporting the South African liberation struggle. The strength of the movement was

    the support and involvement of a broad range individuals, institutions and organizations,

    who in many cases saw direct connections between their own struggles for justice in the

    U.S. and the struggle in South Africa. By the mid-1980s, these local civil society

    organizations were affecting U.S. foreign policy at a level unseen since the movement

    against the war in Vietnam.

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The impact of all this activity is now widely acknowledged. South Africa‘s athletes were

    blocked from participating in events in the U.S., and U.S. artists stopped performing in

    South Africa. States, cities, colleges, churches and others adopted ―people‘s sanctions‖ –

    divesting from companies doing business in South Africa and boycotting banks making

    loans to South Africa. After decades of effort the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act

    and other federal sanctions were adopted. More than 200 U.S. companies withdrew from

    South Africa and Namibia. The Reagan policy of ―constructive engagement‖ was

    discredited; and the struggle for freedom significantly advanced.

One cannot get an accurate picture of the movement by only reading the archives of the

    New York Times. When Nelson Mandela was released you suddenly had many people

    claiming credit for the achievement of the U.S. anti-apartheid movement.

Today, many young people in the U.S. have heard of the anti-apartheid struggle. But few

    know anything about the apartheid system or the liberation movement. Neither do they

    know the role of transnational corporations in supporting apartheid or have any picture of

    the dynamism with which the international anti-apartheid movement supported South

    Africa‘s freedom struggle. The three complementary projects outlined in this paper are working to ensure that the history of the U.S. movement is recorded and preserved.

Authors Note

    This paper is based in part on the authors own participation in anti-apartheid activities

    and his previous writings and the publications of ACOA and The Africa Fund. Much of

    this relates to the work of ACOA. I am grateful to Jennifer Davis, both for her research

    and writings over many years and for her comments on a draft of this paper. In 2001

    ACOA, The Africa Fund (based in New York City) and the Africa Policy Information

    Center (based in Washington, DC) merged to form Africa Action (www.africaaction.org.)

About Richard Knight

    Richard Knight is a New York City-based consultant and director of the African Activist

    Archive Project (http://africa.msu.edu/activists/). From 1975 until 2001, Richard Knight

    worked at the American Committee on Africa (ACOA) and its associate, The Africa

    Fund and participated in numerous anti-apartheid campaigns. He served as primary

    assistant to Projects Director Dumisani Kumalo, now South African Ambassador to the

    UN, on the program for state and municipal divestment. His personal web site, which

    contains historical and current information, is www.richardknight.com.

Richard Knight

    Project Director

    African Activist Archive Project nd521 West 122 Street, Suite 61

    New York, NY 10027 USA

    (212) 663-5989

    Fax: (212) 280-2442

    E-mail: rknight1@juno.com

     9

Copyright 2004 Richard Knight

     1 There was awareness and solidarity activity prior to 1952. The Council on African Affairs was founded

    in 1937 by a group of African Americans including Paul Robeson and Max Yergan. Until the early 1950s it

    played a leading role in providing information about and lobbying for African struggles in the U.S., with

    participation of figures such as W. E. B. Du Bois. Du Bois wrote a number of articles on South Africa for a

    newspaper in Harlem called People’s Voice, including a column dated 14 October 1947 where he described

    South Africa as ―this medieval, slave-ridden oligarchy‖ which is ludicrously ―placed in the front ranks of

    the ‗democracies‘ of the world‖ and in 20 December 1947 he denounced ―the racist, anti-democratic and

    intensely exploitative situation‖ in South Africa. The Council raised funds for the Defiance Campaign and

    had correspondence with the ANC including Oliver Tambo. In the McCarthy period the Council

    succumbed to government repression and internal dissension, eventually dissolving in 1955. See ―Black American Radicals and the Liberation of Africa: The Council on African Affairs, 1937-1955‖ by Hollis R.

    Lynch (Ithaca: Africana Studies and Research Center, Cornell University, 1978); the ANC website at

    http://www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/history/solidarity/web-dubois.htm; and the Directory of African Activist

    Archives at www.africanactivist.msu.edu. 2 The Defiance Campaign led to the formation in 1952 of the ad hoc Americans for South African

    Resistance (AFSAR). In early 1952, learning about the then forthcoming Defiance Campaign from Bill

    Sutherland, George Houser, then executive secretary of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), initiated

    correspondence with Walter M. Sisulu, the Secretary General of the African National Congress, and Yusuf

    A. Cachalia, Secretary-General of the South African Indian Congress. AFSAR published a newsletter, held

    a meeting attended by 800 at Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem where Adam Clayton Powell was

    minister followed by a motorcade of cars with protest banners floating alongside from Harlem down to the

    South African Consulate and raised about $5,000 for the ANC. In 1953, following the end of the Defiance

    Campaign, AFSAR met and decided to form an organization supporting the whole anti-colonial struggle in

    Africa and the American Committee on Africa (ACOA) was born. ACOA kept its focus on supporting the

    liberation struggle and developed strong ties to movements across the continent. For information on

    AFSAR and ACOA see No One Can Stop the Rain: Glimpses of Africa’s Liberation Struggle by George M.

    Houser (New York, NY: The Pilgrim Press, 1989); American Supporters of the Defiance Campaign by

    George M. Houser available at http://www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/history/campaigns/houser.html; and The

    Struggle Never Ends by George Houser available at

    http://africa.msu.edu/activists/remembrances/houser.php. 3 George M. Houser, a founder of ACOA and Executive Director from 1954-1981 was active in the U.S.

    civil rights movement. He was a founder and executive secretary for ten years of the Congress of Racial

    Equality (CORE) and in 1947 was an organizer of the first freedom ride, the Journey of Reconciliation.

    Martin Luther King Jr., a member of the National Committee of ACOA, was involved in a number of

    ACOA sponsored anti-apartheid efforts. He served as national vice-chair of the ―Declaration of Conscience Campaign‖ in 1957, was co-chair with Chief Albert Luthuli of the 1962 campaign ―An Appeal

    for Action Against Apartheid‖ and was the principle speaker at a Human Rights Day rally on December 10,

    1965. The Appeal for Action included a call not to buy South African products or trade or invest in South

    Africa. In the 1980s Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker, who had been King‘s Chief of Staff, joined the board of ACOA. A number of other ACOA board members were active in the civil rights movement. 4 U.S. churches and religious bodies played an important part in the anti-apartheid movement, including

    meeting with and putting pressure on U.S. companies doing business with and banks making loans to South

    Africa. There were campaigns within churches in support of divestment. As Jennifer Davis notes: ―Often

    church activists struggled year after year to get their own pension boards to divest. Sometimes churches

    chose rather to retain their stock and use it to exert pressure on the companies via shareholder resolutions.

    By the early eighties, however, major Protestant denominations had voted to withdraw funds from banks

    and do no business with corporations operating in South Africa.‖ See ―Sanctions and Apartheid: The

    Economic Challenge to Discrimination‖ by Jennifer Davis, Economic Sanctions: Panacea or Peacebuilding in a Post-Cold War World? Eds. David Cortright and George A. Lopez, (Boulder: Westview

    Press, 1995) 5 TransAfrica was founded in July 1977 as an African American lobby on Africa and the Caribbean. For

    many years Randall Robinson, a dynamic public speaker, was the executive director. On November 21,

     10

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