The 1970s and 1980s saw a resurgence of the anti-apartheid movement as national and international groups intensified pressure on the South African government. In this chapter, we follow the sequence of events that forced the National Party to cooperate with resistance leaders to legally end apartheid.

Essential Questions

  • What strategies did the people and organizations working for black liberation in South Africa employ during the 1970s and 1980s?
  • How did international pressure and international support influence the choices made in South Africa?
  • How did the National Party government respond to both domestic and international pressure?

Democracy & Civic Engagement

Growing Resistance Meets Growing Repression

Learn about the figures and events of the 1970s and 80s anti-apartheid movement that succeeded in bringing the National Party to the negotiating table with resistance leaders.

Reading 1 of 5
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Steve Biko Calls for Black Consciousness

Activist Steve Biko’s speech links white racism to the Black Consciousness movement, calling on black South Africans to create their own power to fight oppression.

Reading 2 of 5
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Selling Progress: A South African Filmstrip for American Students

Read the transcript of a video the South African government sent to American students as a way to convince the international community of the benefits of apartheid.

Reading 3 of 5
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Posters from the Freedom Struggle in the 1980s

Look at a selection of anti-apartheid posters that show the diverse range of messages and issues covered within the movement.

Reading 4 of 5
Democracy & Civic Engagement

What Is Ethical?: The Case of Polaroid

Consider the case study of Polaroid, in which opposing sides (Polaroid Revolutionary Workers Movement and Polaroid) voice their reasoning of whether or not to divest from South Africa.

Reading 5 of 5
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Mandela's Strategic Decision

Examine Nelson Mandela’s emotional rejection of a 1985 offer by the South African government to free him if he renounced violence and abstained from politics.

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