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.

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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. Records for many local AA Groups, such as Bristol, Birmingham and Edinburgh, are held at local record offices – see ‘Other Links’.

Follow us on Twitter: @aamarchives

News, events and features

  • ‘Forward to Freedom’ exhibition in Southampton

    pic7910xThe ‘Forward to Freedom’ exhibition is on show at Southampton Civic Centre until the end of November. Southampton was a centre of anti-apartheid campaigning in the South of England. In the 1980s local activists kept up pressure on local Barclays branches, Shell garages and supermarkets to end their companies links with South Africa.

  • Springbok rugby tour of New Zealand, 1981

    ‘Try Revolution’ tells the story of the Springbok rugby tour in 1981. The film has live footage of the anti-apartheid demonstrations that tried to stop the tour. The protests rocked New Zealand and were beamed to South Africa, where white rugby fans watched in horror and the majority looked on with hope. In this one hour documentary South Africans from Archbishop Desmond Tutu through to ordinary rugby fans talk about how these events affected them personally and helped to end the apartheid system. You can watch a trailer for the film here

  • Strike!

    pic8428.smallFor nearly three years in the mid-1980s shopworkers at Dunnes Stores in Dublin went on strike rather than sell South African goods. Now Ardent Theatre Company are looking for a London venue for Strike!, a play about the protest that received rave reviews in Dublin. To support the project go to Ardent’s project page

    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