The International Impact of the South African Struggle for Liberation

Notes and Documents
(No. 2/82)
by George M. Houser, American Committee on Africa, United Nations Centre Against Apartheid
New York, New York, United States
January 1982
Publisher: United Nations
36 pages
International actions supporting the South African liberation struggle have responded to critical events inside South Africa. The Sharpeville Massacre of 1960 and the 1976 student uprising that began in Soweto triggered responses at the United Nations and efforts to boycott South African goods in many countries. Divestment campaigns sprang up on U.S. campuses shortly after the Soweto uprising. By 1979, at least 18 U.S. higher education institutions had partly or wholly divested, and South Africa was the dominant political issue on dozens of other campuses. The struggle in South Africa, and against colonialism in Africa more widely, has deeply affected leaders of the U.S. anti-racist movement. The major policy issue confronting the churches has been their holdings in corporations or banks doing business in South Africa. The Campaign to Oppose Bank Loans to South Africa has 38 affiliated U.S. organizations. The U.S. divestment campaign has recently expanded to state and local governments. The international trade union movement has given increased attention to South Africa, and a number of U.S. national unions, including the Joint Furriers Council, have withdrawn funds from banks lending to South Africa. In March 1980, an International Seminar on an Oil embargo against South Africa was held in Amsterdam, where there was discussion of the ideas of Mohandas K, Gandhi, W.E.B. Dubois, Paul Robeson, and Martin Luther King, Jr. The report also discusses the sports boycott. Organizations discussed in the report include Americans for South African Resistance, the Council on African Affairs, the People's Front for the Liberation of Southern Africa at Princeton University, the South Africa Support Committee at Amherst College, the Stanford Committee for a Responsible Investment Policy at Stanford University, the South African Catalyst Project, Holland Committee on Southern Africa, Working Group Kairos, and the World Council of Churches. Contents: Introduction • I. Impact on struggles in other countries • II. The late 1940s through the 1950s • A. The Context • B. The Impact • III. The 1960s • A. The Context • B. The Impact • IV. From the 1970s to the 1980s • A. The context • B. The impact
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Used by permission of Africa Action (successor to the American Committee on Africa).
Collection: Africa Action Archive