The African Activist Archive Project is building an online archive of primary materials – documents, photographs, artifacts, and written and oral memories – of 50 years of activist organizing in the United States in solidarity with African struggles against colonialism, apartheid, and injustice.
This movement offers important lessons about popular organizing for social justice: The anti-apartheid movement of the 1970s-1994, in particular, was unprecedented. Campaigns by community activists, students, faculty, churches, unions, and city, county, and state legislators led to divestment from U.S. companies doing business in South Africa and culminated in passage of the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986 that changed U.S. foreign policy over President Reagan’s veto.
Organizations in the African solidarity movement created newsletters, pamphlets, leaflets, policy and strategy papers, meeting minutes, correspondence, and graphic, audio and visual material such as posters, buttons, T-shirts, photos, slideshows, radio interviews, and videos. Many groups and coalitions no longer exist, but individuals associated with them have preserved many vital records.
The African Activist Archive Project is cosponsored by the African Studies Center and MATRIX: The Center for Humane Arts, Letters and Social Sciences Online at Michigan State University, which have cooperated on projects about Africa for the past decade.