Artists for a Free South Africa

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Alternate Names: Artists for a New South Africa
Duration: 1989-current
Location: Los Angeles, California, United States


Artists for a Free South Africa (AFSA) was founded in 1989 by Alfre Woodard, Danny Glover, Blair Underwood, CCH Pounder, Mary Steenburgen, Robert and Donna Brown Guillaume, Roderick Spencer and other members of the creative community, many of whom had long been involved in efforts against apartheid. ANSA was formed in response to calls from U.S. and South African grassroots organizers, American elected officials, and South African anti-apartheid leaders for greater support of the international, anti-apartheid movement. The founders recognized the role artists and the arts could play in galvanizing public attention at a time when media coverage of South Africa was scarce-due to increased South African censorship and their expulsion of foreign journalists as well as to lagging U.S. interest. They established ANSA to mobilize the entertainment industry in support of the cultural boycott, economic sanctions, and other international campaigns to help end apartheid. In its early days, AFSA mounted educational events and programs to inform members of the entertainment community about conditions in South Africa and about the vital importance of the cultural boycott and other efforts to isolate the apartheid regime. AFSA mobilized artists and media professionals, arranging their support of and participation in these national and international campaigns. AFSA members appeared at press conferences, authored opinion editorials, lobbied, joined in protest marches, and participated in letter-writing campaigns to support economic and cultural sanctions, protest apartheid, advocate for the release of political prisoners and call for the protection of human rights and civil liberties in South Africa. By involving celebrities and other VIPs in these efforts, ANSA helped to increase media coverage, generate greater public awareness and encourage more widespread public support. In 1990, shortly after Nelson Mandela's release from prison, he embarked on his first U.S. tour. ANSA co-coordinated the Los Angeles fundraising dinner that netted $1.2 million for the Nelson Mandela Freedom Fund. After South Africa’s first democratic election in 1994 the organization changed its name to Artists for a New South Africa (ANSA).