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
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 and Events
How local activists in the London Borough of Hackney campaigned against apartheid is the theme of a new exhibition at CLR James Library, Dalston Lane, Hackney. Hackney Council declared Hackney an apartheid free zone in the 1980s and Hackney Anti-Apartheid Group pressured local supermarkets to stop selling South African fruit. The borough’s Turkish community joined the campaign to pressure local garages into boycotting Shell. The exhibition runs until the end of February.
The peaceful demonstration against the rugby Springboks game against Swansea on 15 November 1969 erupted into violence when vigilantes attacked student protesters. Police stood by while so-called rugby supporters inflicted horrific injuries on demonstrators trying to stop the game. See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-50422755 for contemporary film and photos of the demo, including fascinating new interviews with the Swansea skipper and Springbok Vice-Captain looking back on the tour.
Fifty years ago the Anti-Apartheid Movement won its first big victory with the cancellation of the Springbok cricket tour scheduled for June 1970. A new pamphlet ‘Apartheid is Not a Game’ by Geoff Brown and Christian Hogsbjerg tells how direct action against the Springbok rugby tour in 1969-70 organised by the Stop the Seventy Tour campaign led to the ban on South Africa’s all-white cricket team. The pamphlet is available from Bookmarks, https://bookmarksbookshop.co.uk. Price: £4
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.
Learn about the history of the Anti-Apartheid Movement
In 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.