Connecticut Anti-Apartheid Committee

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Duration: 1978 - late 1980s
Location: Waterbury, Connecticut, United States
Newsletter: Let Freedom Reign!

The Connecticut Anti-Apartheid Committee (CAAC) was organized in 1978 to educate the people of Connecticut about conditions in South Africa, and divest state funds invested in corporations that did business in South Africa (about $220 million). It was a diverse organization drawing on activists from unions, churches, and community groups who already had a background in anti-apartheid work. The organization produced leaflets and handouts, published a monthly newsletter (Let Freedom Reign), had a regular column in an important black newspaper, sponsored speakers, and got many endorsements from prominent individuals and organizations. The CAAC was particularly successful in getting union support, including from the State AFL-CIO, the Hartford Labor Council, the Connecticut State Federation of Teachers, the Connecticut Education Association, District 1199 of the New England Health Care Employees, and AFSCME Local 1716. Other supporters included the Hartford NAACP, the Hartford Black Ministerial Alliance, and Operation P.U.S.H. of Hartford. The CAAC lobbied for state divestment legislation beginning in 1980, and Committee members testified at state hearings to make the case. Committee members also served on a Governor's Task Force to investigate the issue. A non-profit affiliated organization was also set up for educational work, the African Education Committee of Connecticut. The CAAC had strong solidarity with the United Democratic Front from its inception in 1985. The legislative work began in 1980 when Representative William Dyson, chair of the state's legislative black caucus, introduced a divestment bill. Unfortunately, the bill was passed with an amendment that excluded investment only in corporations that did not comply with the Sullivan Principles, a Code of Conduct that most U.S. corporations adopted, and which had negligible effect on changing the apartheid system. A full divestment bill was passed by both houses of the state legislature in 1981, but corporate opposition resulted in Governor O'Neill's veto. Opposition was led by General Electric, the Hartford National Bank, United Technologies, the Connecticut Bank and Trust, and the Aetna and Connecticut General insurance companies. The CAAC responded quickly with a press conference, newspaper articles, and radio interviews, but when the veto was reconsidered, the bill won a majority of votes but not enough to overturn the veto. The bill was finally passed in 1987. The Connecticut Anti-Apartheid Committee worked on the national campaign against selling Krugerrands, the South African gold coins. On the national level, the Committee lobbied and got endorsements from several prominent members of Congress from Connecticut. One high point was a January 26, 1985 organized train ride from New Haven to New York City to protest at the South African consulate. Several members of Congress went on the train, issued a statement, and spoke at the rally. They included Senator Christopher J. Dodd, and Representatives Bruce Morrison, Sam Gejdenson, and Barbara Kennelly. (Source: Drafted by Al Kagan, a former member of the Connecticut Anti-Apartheid Committee.)

Organizational Archive

Title: Connecticut Anti-Apartheid Committee (Peggy Buchanan collection)
Time Span: 1979 - 1984
Description: Publications of the Connecticut Anti-Apartheid Committee and its associate the African Educational Committee of Connecticut. Collection deposited by Peggy Buchanan, a former member of the Connecticut Anti-Apartheid Committee.
Housed At: Michigan State University Library, Special Collections
Location: 100 Library, East Lansing, MI 48824, United States
Phone: 517-353-8700
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