Apartheid was a legal and political system of racial segregation in South Africa in which the National Party used violence to uphold political and economic control by the white minority. Apartheid began under colonial Dutch rule and was officially introduced as an official policy in 1948.
In the spring of 1985, campaigns against apartheid in South Africa mobilized on campuses across the United States. Students at University of California Berkeley became aware of these campaigns and were moved to act. On April 10, two student groups—the UC Divestment Committee and the Campaign Against Apartheid—began organizing daily rallies at Sproul Plaza, a main gathering place on campus. Nancy Skinner led the Divestment Committee and William Nessen headed up the Campaign Against Apartheid, but the student coalition made decisions through the consensus of all members.