African American Students Foundation

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All (9) | Documents (1) | Photographs (7) | Audio (1)

Duration: 1959-1963
Location: New York, New York, United States


In April 1959 Kenyan trade unionist Tom Mboya came to the United States for a six week tour organized by the American Committee on Africa. Mboya gave speeches on college and university campuses. In total he spoke at nearly 100 meetings. On campuses where he spoke he met with the president or other officials and asked for scholarships for African students. At the end of the tour Mboya had promises for over 40 scholarships. Shortly after Mboya returned to Kenya the African American Students Foundation (AASF) was established to raise money to bring the students to the United States. The AASF raised an initial $39,000 and the first 81 students arrived in September 1959. Baseball star Jackie Robinson and performers Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier led the initial fundraising. There was a two day orientation program for the initial 81 students. In 1960 the Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation gave $100,000 to AASF. As a result in 1960 three planes were chartered bringing 222 students from east and central Africa. In all over 770 students from 10 East African countries, 85 percent from Kenya, came to the United States and most returned to civil servant positions after independence. AASF was founded by William X. Scheinman who served on the board. Frank Montero and Ted Kheel were also on the board of AASF. Cora Weiss was Executive Director and student adviser. AASF sponsoring organizations included the American Committee on Africa and the Phelps Stokes Fund. Students included Wangari Maathai who later became the first African women Nobel Peace laureate. Barack Obama Sr, father of 44th President of the United States, did not come on one of the planes charted by the African American Students Foundation but did receive financial support from the foundation once he was in the U.S. See Airlift to America: How Barack Obama, Sr., John F. Kennedy, Tom Mboya, and 800 East African Students Changed Their World and Ours by Tom Shachtman (St. Martin's Press, September 2009, ISBN: 0312570759) and the book related website (Source: Cora Weiss; Shachtam book mentioned above; Annual Report, American Committee on Africa, June 1, 1959 to May 31, 1960; Who Speaks for Africa? A Report on the Activities of the American Committee on Africa; No One Can Stop the Rain: Glimpses of Africa's Liberation Struggle by George M. Houser, The Pilgrim Press, 1989)

Organizational Archive


Title: African American Students Foundation (Cora Weiss) collection
Description: The African American Students Foundation (AASF) was founded in 1959. In April 1959, prior to Kenyan independence, trade unionist Tom Mboya visited the U.S. at the invitation of the American Committee on Africa; Mboya talked on many college campuses and was given scholarships from many colleges. The AASF was set up to raise money and bring students from East Africa to the U.S. to use these scholarships. Although based in New York, AASF had a national focus. Baseball star Jackie Robinson and performers Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier led the initial fundraising. AASF raised an initial $39,000 and as a result organized the first of several "airlifts" of East African students, mostly from Kenya, to the U.S. in September 1959. In 1960 the Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation gave $100,000 to AASF. As a result in 1960 three planes were chartered bringing 222 students from east and central Africa. The archive includes photographs. Cora Weiss was Executive Director and student adviser. Archive deposited by Cora Weiss.
Housed At: Michigan State University Library, Special Collections
Location: 100 Library, East Lansing, MI 48824, United States
Catalog/Finding Aid: view
Restrictions: The archive may not yet be processed. Contact in advance.
Phone: 517-353-8700
Related Website: http://www.lib.msu.edu/coll/main/spec_col/

Related Archive
Title: William X. Scheinman Papers
Time Span: 1952-1999
Description: The William X. Scheinman papers consist primarily of correspondence and printed matter that reflect Scheinman's lifelong interest in African politics, particularly with respect to Kenya. Having met the Kenyan independence leader, Tom Mboya, in 1956, Scheinman was to identify himself with African causes, even while working as a businessman and investment adviser on Wall Street. An important part of the collection consists of Scheinman's extensive correspondence with Tom Mboya. This exchange of letters, which was conducted from 1957 until Mboya's assassination in 1969, provides significant information concerning the Kenyan independence movement and its leading personalities, as well as documenting the first five years of the Kenyatta administration, in which Mboya served as Minister of Justice. In addition, the collection includes numerous speeches and writings by Mboya (see Tom Mboya File). As one of the directors of the African-American Students Foundation, Scheinman was also involved in a program that enabled African students to attend American colleges and universities. Numerous records of this foundation are contained in the collection (see African-American Students Foundation File). Includes correspondence with, writings by, and interviews of, Mboya. Includes correspondence with people and organizations in the United States including the American Committee on Africa; George M. Houser; Belafonte; Frank Montero; Thurgood Marshall; Martin Luther King Jr.; and Peter and Cora Weiss. Includes recordings of Mboya, Kenneth Kaunda, Kwame Nkrumah, and Julius Nyerere.
Housed At: Hoover Institution Archives
Location: Stanford CA 94305-6010, United States
Catalog/Finding Aid: view
Phone: (650) 723-3563
Reference Email: carol.leadenham@stanford.edu
Related Website: http://www.hoover.org/hila/