South Africa Apartheid Divestment Movement (1970s-1980s)

British students force end of Barclays Bank’s investments in South African Apartheid 1969-1987

South Africa Apartheid Divestment Movement (1970s-1980s)
 

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.

Spelman College students win divestment from apartheid South Africa, 1978-1986

South Africa Apartheid Divestment Movement (1970s-1980s)
 

Beginning in the 1970s anti-apartheid campaigns in the United States began to gain momentum as the governmental situation in South Africa grew increasingly worse. Across many fields there was a push to divest from South Africa in order to make the point that the United States did not support the actions of the South African government. The belief was that if the South African government was not receiving the large amounts of financial support that it did from the United States it would be forced to change its behavior.

Stanford Students campaign for divestment from apartheid South Africa, U.S., 1977

South Africa Apartheid Divestment Movement (1970s-1980s)
 

This campaign was part of a greater movement of international opposition to Apartheid in South Africa. The divestment from South Africa was advocated in the United States in the 1960s, but support for divestiture did not reach full scale until the 1980s. The Stanford student solidarity sit-in campaign of 1977 came early on in the rise of this economic pressure.

Michigan State University activists win divestment from apartheid South Africa, 1978

South Africa Apartheid Divestment Movement (1970s-1980s)
 

Beginning in 1948, the white “apartheid” government of South Africa forced the black majority to live as second-class citizens, condemned to poverty and restricted in their freedoms by a system of legalized oppression. On the other side of the globe, in the 1970s, progressive activists in the United States found themselves absent a cause after the end of the civil rights movement and Vietnam War. The blatant atrocity of apartheid seemed a good target. Activists realized that American corporations were supporting the apartheid regime by operating subsidiaries in South Afric

Harvard University community campaigns for divestment from apartheid South Africa, 1977-1989

South Africa Apartheid Divestment Movement (1970s-1980s)
 

In the late 70s and 80s, American colleges and universities were engulfed in a heated debate over the ethical implications of financial investments. Educational institutions had invested billions of dollars in financial institutions and corporations with holdings in South Africa. Since the mid 1900s, the South African Nationalist government had implemented apartheid – a form of institutionalized racial segregation that had forced over a million South Africans to move out of urban spaces to designated rural areas. Many saw U.S.

Hampshire College students win divestment from apartheid South Africa, U.S., 1977

South Africa Apartheid Divestment Movement (1970s-1980s)
 

There are several noted origins of the South Africa divestment movement in the United States. Students and activists protested the 1948-implemented system of apartheid in South Africa throughout the 1960’s and early 70’s, but the movement failed to gain much momentum. In 1962, the United Nations issued Resolution 1761 which called for economic and other sanctions on South Africa, but it received very little support from Western governments.

Rutgers University students win divestment from apartheid South Africa, 1985

South Africa Apartheid Divestment Movement (1970s-1980s)
 

South Africa’s system of apartheid became law following the elections in 1948. Similar to the Jim Crow laws in the United States, the system of apartheid was a form of legalized racial segregation. Consequently, South African apartheid became a very important political issue in the United States; this was especially true once the Jim Crows laws were outlawed. Americans of different racial and economic backgrounds opposed South African apartheid.

University of Wisconsin students win divestment from apartheid South Africa, 1969-1978

South Africa Apartheid Divestment Movement (1970s-1980s)
 

Madison Wisconsin was one of the first communities in the United States to recognize apartheid in South Africa as a serious and international issue that could potentially be addressed in part through American activism and solidarity. The University of Wisconsin-Madison was a focal point for this activism, due to the dedication and engagement of its students and professors.

University of Illinois students gain partial divestment from apartheid South Africa, 1985-1987

South Africa Apartheid Divestment Movement (1970s-1980s)
 

In 1948, the newly elected National Party introduced systematized and legalized segregation in South Africa. The apartheid regime sought white minority rule and the suppression of other racial groups in order to maintain a cheap labor supply. Government officials segregated public institutions and removed the oppressed black Africans from their land onto racially divided reservations. This system sparked internal protests, often met with violence. International groups of people were outraged at apartheid and asked companies to withdraw their holdings from the South African government.

University of Toronto students win divestment from apartheid South Africa, 1984-1990

South Africa Apartheid Divestment Movement (1970s-1980s)
 

Beginning in 1983, students and student allies at the University of Toronto began creating the organizational structures needed to pressure the University to divest from South Africa. Students created an Anti-Apartheid Network, or AAN, drawing membership from the Student Christian Movement, the Communist Club, the African and Caribbean Students’ Association, and the New Democratic Party Club. The group had large support among the student body from very early on, but gained no traction with the University administration.

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