Calling all former activists

If you were previously an anti-apartheid activist we would like to hear from you. Email your story to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  


Borrow an exhibition

A pop-up exhibition ‘Forward to Freedom: The history of the Anti-Apartheid Movement’ is available on loan. If you want to borrow it or can suggest a venue where it can be displayed contact us by email
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  
(22 lightweight A2 boards)

Introduction low res

Video Mandela Concert at Wembley 1988


Video Anti-Apartheid Movement Hyde Park Rally 1988


Video Fruits of Fear campaigns film

Video Have You Heard From Johannesburg


These video interviews are taken from the award winning film series ‘Have You Heard from Johannesburg?’, a Clarity Films production, produced and directed by Connie Field.

  • linear background 1.jpg
  • linear background 2.jpg
  • linear background 3.jpg
  • linear background 4.jpg
  • linear background 5.jpg
  • linear background 6.jpg
  • linear background 7.jpg
  • linear background 8.jpg
  • linear background 9.jpg
  • linear background 10.jpg

Forward to Freedom

Forward to Freedom tells the story of the British Anti-Apartheid Movement and its campaigns to support the people of South Africa in their fight against apartheid. The AAM also campaigned for freedom for Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Angola, and against South Africa’s attacks on its neighbours.

On this website you can find out how hundreds of thousands of people all over Britain took part in anti-apartheid activities. You can watch demonstrations and concerts, and hear from some of those involved. We hope you will find it interesting and look forward to hearing from you. Please send your feedback and questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The website is part of a wider education project set up by the AAM Archives Committee that includes a pop-up exhibition and learning resources. It has been funded by the Barry Amiel & Norman Melburn Trust and the Heritage Lottery Fund, and organised in partnership with Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA).

The AAM archive is held at the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford and is open to researchers on application for a Bodleian reader’s card. The archive of Wales AAM is at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwth and that of the Scottish AA Committee at Glasgow Caledonian University.

Follow us on Twitter: @aamarchives

News, events and features

  • The Life and Legacy of Claudia Jones

    An evening of music, images, history and comment
    Friday 6 March 2015, 6–8pm
    Congress House, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3LS
    Organised by SERTUC Race Relations Committee
    Contributors: Judy Richards (invited), Professor Mary Davis, Marika Sherwood and Alex Pascall. Chair: Betty Joseph, NUT

    Claudia Jones was a seminal figure in British left politics in the second half of the 20th century. The West Indian Gazette, which she founded in 1958, played an important part in publicising the boycott of South African goods in 1959–60 and the activities of the newly formed Anti-Apartheid Movement. Born in Trinidad, Claudia Jones became a political activist after migrating to the USA. In 1955 she was deported for her communist beliefs and came to Britain. She gave a voice to Britain’s growing black community and was a central figure in the ferment of community politics in the late 1950s and early 1960s. After the Notting Hill race riots in 1958 she helped found the Notting Hill Carnival, which continues to this day. Her tragic and premature death in 1964 robbed Britain and the world of an uncompromising and creative fighter against racism and injustice everywhere.

  • ‘Forward to Freedom’ exhibition in Parliament

    HoC back viewParliamentarians and ACTSA supporters came together on 12 January for a special showing of the ‘Forward to Freedom’ exhibition in the House of Commons. Former Cabinet minister and anti-apartheid activist Peter Hain MP paid tribute to all those who had taken part in the struggle for freedom in Southern Africa. Frank Dobson MP, who served as Health Minister in the 1997–2001 Labour government, recalled that the Boycott Movement held its first meeting in Holborn Hall in his Holborn and St Pancras constituency. Frank served on the AAM’s Executive Committee in the 1980s. The event was hosted by ex-AAM Chair Lord Hughes of Woodside and Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield, long-serving former secretary of Sheffield Anti-Apartheid, one of the most active of the AAM’s local groups. 

  • Peter Brayshaw

    Peter Brayshaw edPeter Brayshaw’s sudden death on 18 December has shocked and saddened the friends and comrades who worked with him over many years for freedom and equality in Southern Africa.

    Peter’s first political activity was as an LSE student in 1967 when he protested at the appointment of the University College of Rhodesia’s former Principal as Director of the LSE. In an interview for this website recorded last year, he recalled how he narrowly escaped a prison sentence after being arrested during a student demonstration on Rhodesia in 1969. 

    In 1975, Peter travelled to Angola with his partner Tracy Warne, around the time that MPLA declared independence. They were caught up in fighting between MPLA and FNLA in what he later described as ‘a life-changing as well as life-endangering experience’. From then on Peter’s deepest political commitment was to the struggle for liberation in Southern Africa, and especially in Angola and Mozambique.

    Read more...  

Browse an archive of photos and documents

selection of posters


Former activists tell their stories


A significant part of this project was to record the experiences of former activists in Britain.

Jerry Dammers formed the Specials in Coventry in 1977. An anti-apartheid activist from his school days he helped start Artists Against Apartheid in the UK to campaign and help enforce the cultural boycott. He wrote the song, Free Nelson Mandela, which became an international hit and helped raise awareness of the plight of Mandela and political prisoners in South Africa.

You can hear him talk about writing the song


 Learn about the history of the Anti-Apartheid Movement through the decades

pic6404In 1964 Marlon Brando asked film directors, actors and producers to forbid the screening of their films before segregated audiences in South Africa on a visit to London. In this photograph he is at a press conference with the Anti-Apartheid Movement’s Hon. Secretary Abdul Minty.

The Rolling Stones broke off negotiations for a South African tour and the Beatles announced they opposed apartheid.

Read more about this history starting with the Boycott Movement in 1959, through the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

Barry Amiel and Norman Melburn Trust logoBODLEIAN-LIBRARIES-logoACTSA logoHeritage Lottery Fund logo