Pittsburghers Against Apartheid

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Duration: Early 1982 - mid to late 1980s
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States


Pittsburghers Against Apartheid (PAA) began in early 1982 when a South African consulate opened in downtown Pittsburgh. PAA protested against the South Africa consulate which after several years left Pittsburgh. PAA worked to get the city to divest from its pension fund from companies doing business in South Africa; this was achieved when in January 1985 the Pittsburgh Pension Board voted to adopt a divestment policy. PAA campaigned against the sale of the South African gold coin the Krugerrand by organizing demonstrations at stores that sold the coin; as a result, several stores stopped selling the Krugerrand. As a result of their demonstrations, Kaufmann's Department Store agreed to halt sale of the Krugerrand in December 1984. PAA also picketed the Gold & Silver Exchange because it sold the Krugerrand. PAA supported the cultural boycott of South Africa by protesting at a Ray Charles concert in Pittsburgh because Charles had performed in South Africa. PAA took part in the national Free South Africa Movement. Some of the organizations that participated in PAA included: Pittsburgh Chapter of the National Black Independent Political Party NBIPP, Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church, the Thomas Merton Center, Pittsburgh NAACP, University of Pittsburgh Department of Black Studies, Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, Operation Better Block, and Macedonia Baptist Church. PA. University of Pittsburgh students, staff and faculty formed a group called the Pitt Divestment Committee that also worked with PAA. In the early years, Dr. Jake Milliones, Harvey Adams of the NAACP, and Mona Riscoe of NBIPP were co-chairs of PAA. (Source: Fred Logan, Molly Rush and Gail Austin, former members of PAA; Public Investment and South Africa Newsletter, No. 6, February 1985, American Committee on Africa; and "Pittsburgh Store Yields To Protest", The New York Times, December 19, 1984)