The Chicago Anti-Apartheid Movement collection is located in the College Archives & Special Collections of Columbia College Chicago. It was was assembled through the efforts of Dr. Lisa Brock, Columbia College Chicago Chair of the Humanities, History and Social Sciences Department. A seminal force in the local anti-apartheid movement, Lisa brought together many of her colleagues who donated the material that forms this collection.

Apartheid, the system of government-sponsored racism in South Africa, ended in 1990 with the prohibition against the African National Congress lifted and the release of all political prisoners. In 1994, South Africa held the first democratic elections, voting in Nelson Mandela as President of South Africa and putting his party, the African National Congress, in control. The anti-apartheid struggle was not limited to South Africa; it also included Angola, Namibia, and Mozambique, and the victory of Nelson Mandela paved the way for future stabilization across Southern Africa.

The end of the apartheid system was brought about, in part, by groups of people working locally around the globe who fought apartheid by endorsing economic sanctions and company boycotts. This collection, broadly defined as the Chicago Anti-Apartheid Movement Collection, is made up of several local groups records. Chicago held an active role in the anti-apartheid movement, passing sanctions against companies that supported the apartheid government in South Africa, urging the divestment of holdings from South Africa and South African banks, and encouraging other local governments and large cities to do the same. In 1990, Chicago became a Sister Community to Alexandra Township, the largest township of Johannesburg.

The Chicago Anti-Apartheid Movement Collection represents the work of such local Chicago-area groups. Each organization cosponsored other organizations’ events, speakers, committees, and protests. Examples of local organizational collaboration include Clergy and Laity Concerned, who fought for divestment sanctions against South Africa and organized boycotts against the Kugerrand
and Shell Oil, and Synapses, Inc., a non-profit social justice organization that worked to end racism on a global scale and enact legislation on a local scale, with a focus on Southern Africa and Central America.

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