The History of the Student Struggle for Divestment at Columbia University
by Columbia Coalition for a Free South Africa
New York, New York, United States
Undated, Fall 1983?
The report says that, in 1976, there was a major uprising by Black schoolchildren in Soweto protesting racist education policies. During a peaceful protest, dozens of demonstrators were shot down in the streets. This massacre stimulated widespread protests on college campuses across the United States, including at Columbia. Students began to demand that universities sever their economic ties with that country. In 1978, largely in response to student protests, Columbia divested $2.7 million from banks with financial connections to South Africa. However, from 1978 to 1981 there was very little campus activity about South Africa. In 1981, the Columbia University Coalition for a Free South Africa was formed; the group was originally a committee of the Black Students Organization, but it gradually evolved into an independent, multi-racial organization. Its main objectives are to educate students and faculty about South Africa and to mobilize opposition to apartheid and pressure Columbia and similar institutions to divest their holdings in U.S. companies with ties there. As of June 1983, Columbia had over $44 million invested in corporations that operate in South Africa. The Coalition has held rallies and forums attended by more than 200 people and has obtained more than 600 petition signatures calling for Columbia to divest. In 1982, the U.N. made a tape recording telling of our activities which they broadcasted into South Africa from a bordering country. In response to the administration's refusal to divest, the Coalition hopes to broaden its base of support for divestment, both among Columbia affiliates and members of the surrounding Harlem community. The report also mentions the African National Congress (ANC), former U.S. Ambassador Elliott Skinner, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, Donald Woods, Biko, and the University Senate, administration, and Trustees.
Used by permission of former members of the Coalition for a Free Southern Africa.
Collection: Hunter College Student Clubs, Organizations and Publications Collection, Hunter College Library Archives and Special Collections