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

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say 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.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid