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
The Scottish Centre for Global History at the University of Dundee is running a four-part podcast series on the history of the Anti-Apartheid Movement. In episode 1, SCGH editor Paul Feeney discusses the roots of anti-apartheid activism in Britain with Dr Matthew Graham and Dr Christopher Fevre. The episode focuses on the significance of the Sharpeville massacre, the British Government’s response to apartheid South Africa from 1964, Cold War politics and the ANC, the evolution of the movement into the 1970s, and ‘constructive engagement’ with South African business. You can listen to the podcast by googling ‘Scottish Centre for Global History The British Anti-Apartheid Movement’ and following the links.
A project to convert the former London office of the African National Congress in Islington into a Centre of Memory and Learning has been launched by The Liliesleaf Trust UK, with the AAM Archives Committee and other groups. It has support from the GLA’s Good Growth Fund. Building plans are on hold because of the Coronavirus crisis, but community engagement is ongoing. As part of Islington’s Black History Month and supporting learning from and about diverse histories, the Trust created two family activities that invite design ideas for a community learning garden – see our educational resources page
Pitch Battles: Sport, Racism and Resistance by Peter Hain and Andre Odendaal tells how apartheid South Africa was thrown out of world sport and how this helped bring about the end of apartheid. It shows how racism has for so long been intertwined with sport and how the successful struggle against sports apartheid shines a light on persisting inequalities. Publication date: 1 December.
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.