South Africa: Overcoming Apartheid


Unit 5. Reigniting the Struggle - The 1970s through the Release of Nelson Mandela


There were also many specific campaigns such as the Bank Campaign and Shell Oil boycott, based at the United Mineworkers, and fervent organizing by church, student, and community groups, as well as the Congressional Black Caucus and many state and local legislators. The role of African-American individuals and groups was significant here, with historical foundations laid by committed activists from an earlier generation, such as the singer and activist Paul Robeson, William Alphaeus Hunton of the Council of African Affairs, and A. Philip Randolph of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.

By the late 1980s, the struggle between the South African government and the liberation movements had reached a stalemate. Foreign investment declined while domestic defense spending mounted to finance wars and repression. The reforms which dismantled some "petty" apartheid laws, including the hated pass laws in 1986, did little to stem the hemorrhage of capital or to stop mass defiance. However, a different political climate emerged in 1989 with P. W. Botha’s replacement by the more pragmatic F. W. de Klerk. And behind the scenes, the ongoing crisis prompted secret meetings between Mandela and government officials.
 
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