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

  • Soweto Uprising 40th Anniversary

    Afrikaans16 June 2016 is the 40th anniversary of the uprising by Soweto school students which marked the beginning of the end of apartheid. Thousands of young people defied police bullets and hundreds were killed and injured. Over the next year many were detained and tortured, and others went into exile.

    In London former student activists, historians and journalists will discuss the legacy of Soweto at a symposium at the Institute of Education, Bedford Way, WC1 on 16 June, 5–8pm. ‘Remember Soweto’

    In Newcastle a conference ‘Spirit of Soweto: Racism and rebellion 40 years on’ will make links between history and the present day. Organised by educators and campaigners in partnership wth the Martin Luther King Peace Committee, the conference will learn from South Africa four decades ago to nourish anti-racist and solidarity movements in 2016. 18 June, 11am–5pm, Barbara Strang Teaching Centre, Newcastle University, NE1 7RU

  • ‘Forward to Freedom’ exhibition in Scotland

    pic9310xScotland’s role in the international anti-apartheid movement will be the focus of an extended version of the ‘Forward to Freedom’ exhibition at the Scottish Parliament, 1–5 February. Four Scottish local authorities gave Nelson Mandela the freedom of their cities and the Scottish AA Committee brought together trade union, church and student support for anti-apartheid campaigns. The exhibition features Mandela’s visit to Glasgow in 1993 and Scotland’s role in the cultural boycott of apartheid South Africa. It will be at Midlothian Libraries, 8–26 February; Aberdeen City Libraries, 29 February–2 April; and Glasgow Caledonian University, 4–29 April.

  • London Recruits

    ‘London Recruits: the movie’ will tell how young Londoners undertook secret missions against South Africa’s apartheid regime in the early 1970s. Some of them kept silent for over 40 years. Now Cardiff-based film-makers, Barefoot Rascals, are planning a feature film that will tell their story. The film will feature interviews, dramatised reconstructions and original documentary footage. The makers have already raised their crowd-funding target of £40,000. You can read  about the project here.


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