African Activist Archive

Tags: Africa, History, Multimedia & Digital Archives

The apartheid government of South Africa was one of the most visible displays of racial injustice the world has ever known. While the South African fight to end that system is well documented, there was also a strong period of activism by American citizens during the 1950s-1990s to support the African peoples in their struggles against colonialism, apartheid, and social injustice. As part of this resistance movement, Americans produced flyers, T-shirts, buttons, and other propaganda items that articulated their stance against apartheid. The African Activist Archive, consisting of over five thousand of these artifacts, gives a representative cross-section of those materials and their historical contexts.

Until recently, these artifacts had been widely distributed and— thus —the American anti-apartheid story had been relatively difficult to articulate and illustrate. However, in collaboration with the MSU African Studies Center, MATRIX has worked to assemble a number of these pieces into one collection and to present them digitally with the accompanying metadata that allows the site to tell the story of the African activist movement in America. The artifacts presented here are extremely rare but important in giving the full picture of the global anti-apartheid movement. We encourage you to browse these galleries and to use the materials found their to enhance further understanding and teaching of American activism.