Interview with Lynn Jondahl

by Lynn Jondahl (interviewee), David Wiley (interviewer), Peter Limb
East Lansing, Michigan, United States
February 4, 2005
Publisher: Michigan State University Libraries
Duration: 1:06:00
Type: Interview
Coverage in Africa: South Africa
Coverage outside Africa: United States
Jondahl discusses the strategic considerations and political context that led to pursuing three South Africa bills in the Michigan legislature: 1) not depositing state funds in banks that loan to South Africa (1980), 2) prohibiting Michigan public universities from holding investments in companies operating in South Africa (1982), and 3) divesting public employee pension funds from companies operating in South Africa (1988), all of which were adopted. He speaks about the strong identification of the African-American community with anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa and the significant role played by the Black Caucus in the legislature. Opponents of the bills did not wish to openly support white rule in South Africa and risk being considered racist. Public opposition to the university divestment bill was presented mostly in terms of the autonomy of universities, and the University of Michigan challenged the law on this ground, leading to the Michigan Supreme Court declaring the law unconstitutional. Opposition to the public employments divestment bill focused on the fiduciary responsibility of the pension board not to risk investment earnings of retirees. Therefore, the legislative advocates for divestment placed priority on gaining support from the state Treasurer (Bob Bowman, the appointee of Governor James Blanchard), who was ultimately responsible for administering the pension funds. Jondahl discusses public organizing on behalf of these bills and in opposition to it. He also discusses his involvement in the University Christian Movement and work in the campus ministry and as an activist in the community and the anti-war movement before becoming a legislator.

Used by permission of Lynn Jondahl, David Wiley, and the Michigan State University Libraries.
Collection: African Studies Interview Series, Michigan State University Libraries