The Anti-Apartheid Movement’s monthly newspaper was launched in January 1965. First published as ‘Apartheid News’, its title was changed in February 1966 to ‘Anti-Apartheid News’. The first issue set out the AAM’s aims for 1965, reported on trials under South Africa’s Terrorism Act and carried news of the activities of anti-apartheid activists all over Britain. It included a short play by jazz singer George Melly and reported on the setting up of a new group, Merseyside Artists Against Apartheid. 

The February issue exposed the Labour government’s failure to impose an effective arms ban on South Africa and outlined the AAM’s campaign plans, culminating in a dramatic presentation of life under apartheid and mass rally in Trafalgar Square in June 1965. It reported on how Bram Fischer had jumped bail in his trial under the Suppression of Communism Act and carried an exposé of South Africa’s segregated health care system.

AA News argued that the imposition of sanctions against South Africa was the only way to forestall race war in the Southern African region. This issue also reported on the World Campaign for the Release of Political Prisoners and the prospects for Britain’s three Southern Africa protectorates on the eve of their independence. It highlighted protests against visits by all-white South African sports teams and church action against apartheid.

This issue featured South West Africa (Namibia) and attacks on South African trade unions. It published a timetable for protests against the 1965 Springbok cricket tour and an article by British trade union leader Jack Jones on sanctions against South Africa.

The lead story in the June 1965 issue featured white emigration from Britain to South Africa. The edition advertised the AAM’s June rally in Trafalgar Square and explained the history of South Africa Freedom Day, 26 June. It also carried features on South Africa’s segregated education system and the apartheid economy. Under the headline ‘Jazz Quartet Hits London’, AA News welcomed Dudu Pukwana, Chris McGregor and their fellow jazz musicians to London.

The 1965 Springbok cricket tour was the focus of widespread protests. AA News appealed to all cricket fans to boycott the matches. This issue reported on the AAM’s 26 June rally and on celebrations of South Africa Freedom Day over the world. It exposed loopholes in the British arms embargo and reported on the International Court of Justice case on South Africa’s violation of its mandate on South West Africa (Namibia). Under the heading ‘Heroes of Our Time’, it reviewed ‘No Easy Walk to Freedom’, a compilation of Nelson Mandela’s  speeches edited by Ruth First.

This issue led on Lawrence Gandar’s exposé of the South African prison system. It also headlined an appeal to Labour Party Conference to support a comprehensive arms embargo against South Africa. It exposed torture in South African prisons and ‘forgotten trials’ in the Eastern Cape. Special features explained race classifications under apartheid and focused on the ‘unholy alliance’ between South Africa, Rhodesia and the Portugal. The issue also reported on the British Screenwriters Guild’s call for a government ban on the distribution of British films in South Africa.

The editorial in this issue of AA News set out immediate steps the UN should take against apartheid South Africa short of mandatory sanctions. It carried an article on student action against apartheid by the President of the NUS and reported on South Africa’s refusal to allow Maori rugby players to tour South Africa. It exposed the myth of South Africa’s independent judiciary and showed how all education there was segregated.