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
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.
The Welsh People’s History Society, Llafur, recently held a roundtable event on the Wales Anti-Apartheid Movement. Hanef Bhamjee, Mick Antoniw, Hywel Francis, Mair Francis and Gaynor Legall shared their memories and sparked a discussion that explored the origins, development and wider historical and cultural impact of anti-apartheid campaigning in Wales. The session was introduced by Morwenna Osmond. It was one of a fascinating series focusing on race and identity in Wales. You can listen to the session here.
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.