America’s Voices Against Apartheid
September 14 - November 5, 2023
The National African American Drug Policy Coalition, in collaboration with the Howard University Republic of South Africa (HURSAP), the Apartheid Museum, and the Sister States of Maryland are pleased to present the “America’s Voices Against Apartheid” exhibition at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
The exhibition tells the story of the contributions of the American people to the global fight against apartheid in South Africa – from the development of those ties in the late 1800s to Nelson Mandela’s historic election as the first democratically elected President of South Africa in 1994.
The exhibition profiles well-known celebrity activists and the common American citizen and organizations who dared to question and challenge not only the South African apartheid regime, but more importantly, their own government’s complicit “constructive engagement” with the discriminatory South African government.
These voices came from every corner of the American landscape: white, Black, young, old, rich, poor, Democratic, Republican, East Coast, West Coast, Midwest, New England, South, Northwest Pacific. And they took their fight to the streets, college campuses, banks, board rooms, corporate headquarters, city and state legislatures, the South African Embassy and consulates around the U.S., the United Nations and to Washington, D.C., the seat of the U.S. government itself.
They resoundingly said “NO” to apartheid and to their own government’s anti-democratic policies. They said “NO” to oppression...“NO” to murdering and jailing South African freedom fighters... and “NO” to the use of force by the South African military and police state. For decades, they challenged the South Africa government to create a new, free and democratic South Africa, while strengthening our own democracy at home.
The exhibition also shines a light on the early American social justice pioneers from the late 1800s and early 1900s who understood that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” and laid the foundation for the anti-apartheid activism of the 1980s and 90s.
It will also link global anti-apartheid activism to contemporary social
justice movements in the U.S., South Africa and across the African Diaspora by exploring the lessons, tactics and strategies from the past that can inform, inspire and unite today’s 21st century activists.