About Us

African Activist Archive Project

Collections Policy

Michigan State University Project Sponsors

Project Staff and Advisory Committee

Acknowledgements

Contact Us

African Activist Archive Project

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The African Activist Archive Project is building an online archive of primary materials - documents, photographs, artifacts, and written and oral memories - of 50 years of activist organizing in the United States in solidarity with African struggles against colonialism, apartheid, and injustice. This is a "people's archive" focused primarily on local organizations in the U.S. that supported African struggles against colonialism and white minority rule. We also include materials from national organizations that provided research, educational and organizing materials, and some reporting about these local community and campus groups.

The U.S. African solidarity movement was racially diverse and was a significant part of the broad struggle against racism in the United States. The movement involved many types of organizations across the country, and this project seeks to document as many organizations as possible that participated in activist work in solidarity with African people's struggles. The geographic focus of activism in the collection is Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe; however, this focus is not exclusive.

This movement offers important lessons about popular organizing for social justice. The anti-apartheid movement of the 1970s-1994, in particular, was unprecedented. Campaigns by community activists, students, faculty, churches, unions, and city, county, and state legislators led to divestment from U.S. companies doing business in South Africa and culminated in passage of the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986 that changed U.S. foreign policy over President Reagan's veto.

Organizations in the African solidarity movement created newsletters, pamphlets, leaflets, policy and strategy papers, meeting minutes, correspondence, and graphic, audio and visual material such as posters, buttons, T-shirts, photos, slideshows, radio interviews, and videos. Many groups and coalitions no longer exist, but individuals associated with them have preserved many vital records.

We are eager to work with anyone who can help document additional campaigns and organizations to be included in this online archive. We also encourage people to submit written remembrances and audio or video interviews. Please contact the project if you would like to contribute to this website or donate materials to a physical archive.

Collections Policy

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The project's Collections Policy explains how materials are chosen for the online archive and provides information for people who are interested in contributing materials.

Michigan State University Project Sponsors

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The African Activist Archive Project is cosponsored by the African Studies Center and MATRIX: The Center for Humane Arts, Letters and Social Sciences Online at Michigan State University, which have cooperated on projects about Africa for the past decade.

Established in 1960, the African Studies Center at Michigan State University is one of 11 Title VI National Resource Centers on Africa designated by the U.S. Department of Education, with 160 faculty across the university and offering graduate students the opportunity to learn 30 African languages. Its outreach programs provide information about Africa to teachers and students, the media, scholars, policy-makers, and the public throughout the country. The Center has provided financial administration and digitizing assistance by Alicia Rice, LaCarla Jones, Michelle Beavers, and Joanne Martin.

MATRIX is one of the premier humanities computing centers in the United States. It creates and maintains online resources, provides training in computing and new teaching technologies, and creates forums for the exchange of ideas and expertise in the field. MATRIX provided website design, programming, and digitizing by Scott Pennington, Chris Johnson, and Ryna Bliton, Tor Bjornrud, Matt Geimer, Dan Jaquint, Jay Cunningham, and Mark Root-Wiley.

MATRIX houses major digital library repositories, including several about Africa cosponsored by MATRIX and the African Studies Center. These include the curriculum resource South Africa: Overcoming Apartheid, Building Democracy and the Community Video Education Trust archive of video recordings of political resistance, state brutality, and press conferences by community activists in Cape Town during the 1980s and early 1990s; and the African Media Program, a resource for identifying educational and feature films and videos about Africa. Also, MATRIX cooperated with Detroit Pubic Television's American Black Journal to create an online video archive of its 40 years of programs.

Michigan State University Libraries plays an important role in this project, accepting donations of activist's multimedia collections in the African Activist Archive of the MSU Libraries Special Collections. The MSU Library has one of the nation's largest collections about Africa as well as a strong Special Collection of American Radicalism.

Project Staff and Advisory Committee

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Richard Knight, Project Director

David Wiley, Principal Investigator, African Studies Center

Christine Root, MSU Project Manager, African Activist Archive

Project Advisory Committee

Marsha Bonner

J.D. Moore Crossey

Jennifer Davis

George M. Houser

Dumisani S. Kumalo

Prexy Nesbitt

David Wiley

Biographies of Staff and Advisory Committee members

Acknowledgements

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We thank the many people who have provided documents, photographs, audio and video materials, physical artifacts, written remembrances, and interviews for inclusion in this online archive. These individuals are identified on the webpages of these objects.

We gratefully acknowledge the generous financial support to the African Activist Archive Project from the following:

  • Community Church of New York, Unitarian Universalist
  • Communication Workers of America Local 1180
  • DJB Foundation
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  • Ford Foundation
  • Hartford Memorial Baptist Church
  • Marin Community Foundation
  • Normandie Foundation
  • Our Developing World
  • Samuel Rubin Foundation
  • Social Service Employees Union Local 371
  • African Studies Center, Michigan State University
  • Numerous individual contributors

We continue to seek funding for general support or digitizing particular collections or categories of materials in order to expand both the depth and breadth of this online archive. Please make inquiries to Project Director Richard Knight.

Contact Us

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Richard Knight
Project Director, African Activist Archive
521 West 122nd St., Suite 61
New York, NY 10027
rknight1@juno.com
Telephone: (212) 663-5989
Fax: (212) 280-2442

David Wiley
Principal Investigator, African Studies Center
Department of Sociology
316 Berkey Hall
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824-1111
wiley@msu.edu
Telephone: (517) 355-7632
Fax: (517) 432-2856

Christine Root
MSU Project Manager, African Activist Archive
Department of History
301 Morrill Hall
East Lansing, MI 48824
(517) 355-7632

Peter Limb
Africana Bibliographer
Michigan State University Libraries
East Lansing, MI 48824
limb@msu.edu
(517) 884-0838

Peter Berg
Special Collections Librarian
Michigan State University Libraries
East Lansing, MI 48824