In April 1959 Kenyan trade unionist Tom Mboya came to the United States for a six week tour organized by the American Committee on Africa. Mboya gave speeches on college and university campuses. In total he spoke at nearly 100 meetings. On campuses where he spoke he met with the president or other officials and asked for scholarships for African...
In April 1959 Kenyan trade unionist Tom Mboya came to the United States for a six week tour organized by the American Committee on Africa. Mboya gave speeches on college and university campuses. In total he spoke at nearly 100 meetings. On campuses where he spoke he met with the president or other officials and asked for scholarships for African students. At the end of the tour Mboya had promises for over 40 scholarships. Shortly after Mboya returned to Kenya the African American Students Foundation (AASF) was established to raise money to bring the students to the United States. The AASF raised an initial $39,000 and the first 81 students arrived in September 1959. Baseball star Jackie Robinson and performers Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier led the initial fundraising. There was a two day orientation program for the initial 81 students. In 1960 the Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation gave $100,000 to AASF. As a result in 1960 three planes were chartered bringing 222 students from east and central Africa. In all over 770 students from 10 East African countries, 85 percent from Kenya, came to the United States and most returned to civil servant positions after independence. AASF was founded by William X. Scheinman who served on the board. Frank Montero and Ted Kheel were also on the board of AASF. Cora Weiss was Executive Director and student adviser. AASF sponsoring organizations included the American Committee on Africa and the Phelps Stokes Fund. Students included Wangari Maathai who later became the first African women Nobel Peace laureate. Barack Obama Sr, father of 44th President of the United States, did not come on one of the planes charted by the African American Students Foundation but did receive financial support from the foundation once he was in the U.S. See Airlift to America: How Barack Obama, Sr., John F. Kennedy, Tom Mboya, and 800 East African Students Changed Their World and Ours
by Tom Shachtman (St. Martin's Press, September 2009, ISBN: 0312570759) and the book related website
(Source: Cora Weiss; Shachtam book mentioned above; Annual Report, American Committee on Africa, June 1, 1959 to May 31, 1960; Who Speaks for Africa? A Report on the Activities of the American Committee on Africa; No One Can Stop the Rain: Glimpses of Africa's Liberation Struggle
by George M. Houser, The Pilgrim Press, 1989)