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Massachusetts Coalition for Divestment from South Africa (MASS Divest)

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All (28) | Documents (22) | Photographs (4) | Posters (2)

Duration: 1980-1983
Location: Massachusetts, United States


Mass Divest was formed in 1980 as a broad coalition church, labor, community groups and anti-apartheid organizations to work for the divestment of Massachusetts pension funds from all banks and corporations operating in South Africa. In 1979 State Senator Jack Backman and State Representative Mel King filed legislation in both chambers of the State Legislature requiring full divestment of the state pension funds. But Backman and King saw the need for a broader coalition in order for a divestment bill to pass leading to the formation of Mass Divest. Unions involved in Mass Divest included the Service Employees International Union (Locals 509 and 285); the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1489 and the Massachusetts Teachers Association. Community groups included Mobilization for Survival, the Boston Peoples Organization and the American Friends Service Committee. Anti-apartheid groups included the Boston Coalition for the Liberation of Southern Africa (BCLSA) and the TransAfrica Boston Support Group. In 1982 the State of Massachusetts enacted an act ending the investment of public pension funds in firms doing business in or with South Africa. It was the strongest divestment legislation of any state at that point and was passed over the veto of Governor Edward King. (Source: Make In Massachusetts, Not in South Africa: How We Won Divestment Legislation by Mass Divest, American Committee on Africa, March 1983)

Related Archives


Related Archive
Title: Boston Coalition for the Liberation of Southern Africa papers
Time Span: mid-1970s - mid-1990s
Media: 1 box
Description: In 1982 it changed its name to the Boston Committee for the Liberation of Southern Africa. The collection includes material of other Massachusetts organization including after BCLSA ceased operating. The anti-apartheid activists who eventually formed BCLSA came from groups such as the Africa Research Group, whose Boston members was active in the early 1970s, and the Southern Africa Solidarity Committee, which organized on the Harvard-Radcliffe campus in the mid-1970s. The collection includes material from other Boston area organizations including the Polaroid Revolutionary Workers Movement which drew attention to the Polaroid camera systems being used in the pass system in South Africa, the Gulf Boycott Coalition which between 1972-1975 was active in promoting the boycott of Gulf gasoline because of the company's support for the Portuguese colonial regime in Angola, the Southern Africa Solidarity Coalition, the Fund for a Free South Africa (FreeSA) and Mass Divest which led the successful campaign for state divestment. FreeSA continued to do fund-raising events and supported non-governmental organizations active in South Africa in the late 1980s. The archive includes other activities that followed the institution of U.S. sanctions in the 1980s included meetings of health care professionals and formation of a Boston chapter of the Committee for Health in South Africa (CHISA), the mobilization of support for Nelson Mandela's visit to Boston in 1990, and the development of a 'sister state' agreement between Massachusetts and the Eastern Cape in the mid-1990s. This collection forms part of the African Activist Archive collections. Papers collected and donated by Richard Clapp and Barbara Brown (members of BCLSA).
Housed At: Michigan State University Library, Special Collections
Location: 100 Library, East Lansing, MI 48824, United States
Catalog/Finding Aid: view
Phone: 517-353-8700
Related Website: http://www.lib.msu.edu/spc/index/