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
Don’t miss – ‘Beneath the Surface: South Africa in the Seventies’, an exhibition of photographs by Steve Bloom at The Beaney, Canterbury, 19 October–19 January 2020. The exhibition covers 1976, a pivotal year in South Africa’s history, when school students protests marked the beginning of the end of apartheid. It also includes anti-apartheid posters, badges and artefacts. https://canterburymuseums.co.uk/events/steve-bloom-beneath-the-surface-south-africa-in-the-seventies/
Fifty years ago the Anti-Apartheid Movement and Stop the Seventy Tour launched the campaign that led to the AAM’s first big victory – the cancellation of the all-white Springbok cricket series in June 1970. Thousands of people took part in demonstrations and pitch invasions of the Springbok rugby tour that began in November 1969, and forced the cancellation of the cricket tour planned for the following summer. Were you there? If so, please send your memories for a new pamphlet about the campaign. Contact Geoff Brown at or Christian Hogsbjerg at
In 1984 shopworkers at Dunnes Stores in Dublin went on strike to demand the reinstatement of a colleague sacked for refusing to handle Outspan oranges from South Africa. The Irish trade union Mandate is celebrating their action with a festival of diverse culture and lively discussion which brings the energy of the 1984 anti-apartheid strike to the struggles and challenges we face today. The event will include a reading of Strike!, a play by Tracy Ryan based on the events of 1984. Saturday 2 November, 6–10.30pm, Liberty Hall, Dublin and Sunday 3 November, 10.30am-4.30pm, Connolly Hall, Dublin. https://mandate.ie
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.