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The Free South Africa Movement (FSAM) was a coalition of individuals, organizations, students, and unions across the United States of America who sought to end "Apartheid in "South Africa.[1] With local branches throughout the country, it was the primary anti-Apartheid movement in the United States.



The movement began on November 21, 1984 when "Randall Robinson, Executive Director of "TransAfrica, "Mary Frances Berry, Commissioner of the "United States Commission on Civil Rights, D.C. Congressman "Walter Fauntroy and "Georgetown University law professor "Eleanor Holmes Norton met with South African Ambassador "Bernardus Gerhardus Fourie at his embassy to highlight "human rights abuses in South Africa.[2] They demanded the release of "political prisoners and refused to leave the embassy by staging a "sit-in, which led to the arrest of Robinson, Fauntroy and Berry. Norton was not arrested because she was addressing the media outside of the embassy, which had been notified beforehand. The sit-in was planned for Thanksgiving Eve to ensure wide press coverage. [3] Thereafter, Trans-Africa organized daily protests outside the embassy. These protests helped create FSAM.

Robinson's organization, Trans-Africa, was a founding member of FSAM, and played a key role in its development.[4] They continued their strike outside the embassy and solicited high profile individuals to join the protests.[5] The FSAM had three major objectives. One was to build awareness among the American general public of apartheid through a strategy of civil disobedience and demonstrations that elicited media coverage. The second objective was to begin a change in the U.S. policy of constructive engagement toward South Africa. The third objective was that once American policy changed that it would begin to influence other Western countries to follow suit [6]

Anti-Apartheid protests[edit]

After the formation of FSAM, demonstrations at South African consulates continued. This included various celebrities and activists who tied themselves to trees.[5] Within a year, more than 4,500 arrests had followed.[1] Local branches of FSAM formed in cities across the country.


The combined leadership of FSAM, TransAfrica and the "Congressional Black Caucus together with the commitment of private citizens around the country led to the passage of the "Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act. Many European countries followed suit by enacting their own sanctions. FSAM is arguably the most important and successful initiative undertaken by black private citizens since the "Civil Rights Movement. It expanded the influence of "African Americans in forming US foreign policy.[7]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b "African Activist Archive". "Africanactivist.msu.edu. Retrieved 2013-11-08. 
  2. ^ "Nixon, Ron (2016). Selling Apartheid: South Africa's Global Propaganda War. London, U.K.: Pluto Press. p. 110. "ISBN "9780745399140. "OCLC 980912571. 
  3. ^ "Chronology of the Free South Africa Movement." http://transafrica.org/fsam-history/ Accessed 4/26/2015
  4. ^ [1]["dead link]
  5. ^ a b Nicolson, Greg (2012-05-01). "Randall Robinson and the legacy of Trans-Africa". Daily Maverick. Retrieved 2013-11-08. 
  6. ^ Randall Robinson and Clarence Lusane. "An Interview with Randall Robinson: State of the U.S. Anti-Apartheid Movement." The Black Scholar, Vol. 16, No. 6, p.41.
  7. ^ Glover, Danny (2009-12-15). "Danny Glover on South Africa 25 Years Later: Remembering The Movement that Unraveled Apartheid". The Root. Retrieved 2013-11-08. 
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