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
Denis Goldberg died in Cape Town on 29 April. Denis was arrested in 1963 with Nelson Mandela and other ANC leaders and spent 22 years in prison in Pretoria. On his release in 1985 he was forced to leave South Africa and came to London. He continued his fight against apartheid in exile, working in the ANC and the Anti-Apartheid Movement. After South Africa’s first democratic election in 1994 Denis set up Community Heart and carried on working for an end to poverty and greater equality in the new South Africa. In an interview for Channel 4 he said he had never regretted a day of his life in struggle. You can read his interview here.
Pamphlets describing different aspects of life under apartheid. In the 1970s and 1980s the International Defence and Fund published scrupulously researched pamphlets exposing what different aspects of apartheid meant in the daily lives of black South Africans. A selection of these are now on the website, including booklets on education, workers, the press, torture and repression, sport and women. https://www.aamarchives.org/history/apartheid.html#click-here-for-apartheid-documents-pictures
An exciting new project plans to convert the former London office of the African National Congress in Penton Street, Islngton into a Centre of Memory and Learning about the anti-apartheid solidarity movement. The project has been launched by the Liliesleaf Trust UK, working with the AAM Archives Committee and other groups. It has won support from the GLA’s Good Growth Fund and now needs to raise matched funding to convert the building into an exhibition and educational centre. Plans are currently on hold because of the Coronovirus crisis.
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.