Harvard and Radcliffe Alumni/ae Against Apartheid

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Duration: 1985 - 1991
Location: Pelham, Massachusetts, United States

The Harvard and Radcliffe Alumni/ae Against Apartheid (HRAAA) campaigned for Harvard University to adopt a policy of divesting its stock in companies operating in South Africa. The organization's strategy was to use the "nomination by petition" system to nominate alumni for the Harvard Board of Overseers and to urge alumni/ae to support their slate. Three alumni/ae were nominated using this method in 1985-86 under the name "Alumni Against Apartheid," and Gay Seidman was elected to the Board. The group ran a second slate of six candidates in 1986-87 under the name Harvard-Radcliffe Alumni/ae Against Apartheid, and two candidates were elected: Consuela Washington and Peter Wood. In response to their efforts to organize a discussion and vote on the issue of divestment, leaders of the Board of Overseers instead convinced the Board to establish a joint Harvard Corporation/ Overseers committee to consider a policy of "selective divestment." In 1988-89, the group was successful in electing Archbishop Desmond Tutu to the Board, after he had stated that he would return his honorary degree unless Harvard University divested entirely from South Africa. In response to the HRAAA's use of the petition system, the Board of Overseers changed the election procedures to require more petition signatures and many more votes to elect someone to the Board. The HRAAA ran two more slates of candidates (including Barack Obama, former President of the Harvard Law Review, in 1991), but none of its candidates were elected after the procedural change. In 1988, the organization expanded its mission to include other aspects of institutionalized racism at Harvard and other issues of social justice in the University's internal life and its relationship to the outside world. A video clip from WGBH Ten O'clock News of March 9, 1989 with HRAAA members Robert Wolff, Robert Zevin, and Linda Davidoff addressing a small crowd on the Harvard Campus is available in the WGBH archives at [Harvard/Radcliffe Alumni Against Apartheid].

Organizational Archive

Title: Harvard/Radcliffe Alumni/ae Against Apartheid (Chester Hartman collection)
Time Span: About 1986 - 1994
Description: Material of Harvard and Radcliffe Alumni/ae Against Apartheid (HRAAA), an organization that campaigned for Harvard University to adopt a policy of divesting its stock in companies operating in South Africa. Archives deposited by Chester Hartman, an active member of HRAAA.
Housed At: Michigan State University Library, Special Collections
Location: 100 Library, East Lansing, MI 48824, United States
Phone: 517-353-8700
Related Website: http://www.lib.msu.edu/spc/index/

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