News / USA

US Anti-Apartheid Movement Helped Bring Change to South Africa

US Anti-Apartheid Movement Helped Bring Change to South Africai
X
Chris Simkins
April 24, 2014 9:29 PM
It's been 20 years since the end of apartheid in South Africa, the system of racial segregation that curtailed the rights of black South Africans for decades. One of the strongest protest movements outside South Africa to dismantle apartheid was in the United States during the 1980s. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Washington on how the American anti-apartheid effort played a pivotal role in bringing about change in South Africa.
Chris Simkins
It's been 20 years since the end of apartheid in South Africa, the system of racial segregation that curtailed the rights of black South Africans for decades. One of the strongest protest movements outside South Africa to dismantle apartheid was in the United States during the 1980s.

Television news images of the violent struggles to end apartheid in South Africa captured the attention of Americans in the 1980s.  

They also galvanized support for the U.S. anti-apartheid movement. Former U.S. Congressman Ron Dellums was one of the leaders of the movement.

"Challenging apartheid in South Africa became a logical next place to go," he said.

Dellums worked to expose the plight of South Africa's blacks along with the injustices carried out by the white minority government. Dellums introduced anti-apartheid legislation in Congress banning trade and investment in South Africa, and also led many demonstrations in which ordinary people and many celebrities were arrested.

"They went out there to put themselves on the line to say, 'Look if South Africans could be beaten and jailed the least we could do is go out there and experience some discomfort ourselves and be one with our sisters and brothers in the struggle to liberate them," he said.

Howard Dodson, director of the Howard University Library, remembers protesting with his son outside the South African consulate in Atlanta.

"The anti-apartheid activities in the United States actually reverberated around the world leading other people to develop their own demonstration activities and that was probably as critical to the overthrow of apartheid as anything else that was going on," he said.

Students also protested on university campuses - calling on schools and corporations get rid of their investments in South Africa.

Nelson Mandela's granddaughter Tukwini says the U.S. anti-apartheid movement and others helped turn international opinion decisively against the apartheid regime.

"My grandfather and others really appreciated that because they realized that without the support from the outside there would not have necessarily been successful in dismantling apartheid," she said.

In 1986, Congress approved a law (The Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act) imposing tough U.S. economic sanctions against South Africa.  President Ronald Reagan opposed the measure and vetoed it.  But days later, lawmakers overrode his veto.

Former Republican Senator Richard Lugar supported the sanctions.

"This led the South African government, I believe, to reconsider its policies not immediately but certainly under the dint of the difficult sanctions that were there," he said. "And it led to the freedom of Nelson Mandela."

Apartheid ended in 1994, and Nelson Mandela was elected South Africa's president. During a state visit to Washington he thanked Americans for their support.

"You have no idea how your involvement in the anti-apartheid struggle in our country actually helped to facilitate the transformation," he said.

Ron Dellums says the greatest reward for his anti-apartheid work came during a meeting with Mandela.

"He [Mandela] looked at me and said Ronald Dellums we have heard much of you," he said. "You gave us [South Africans] hope you kept us alive and he hugged me and I broke down and cried. I will never forget that moment for as long as I live."

Dellums says there's no doubt the determination and sacrifice by so many in the U.S. anti-apartheid movement helped to change the course of history in South Africa.

You May Like

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Jackson
April 25, 2014 11:59 AM
Please Mr Dellums, where were you on Zimbabwe, Gukhurundi, Murambatsvina, and the 2008 Election violence in Zimbabwe? to mention just some debacles. Really look forward to hearing what you did to help the people there.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid