Monday, February 10, 2014

The African National Congress (ANC), Nelson Mandela and the African American Struggle

With the passing of Nelson Mandela on December 5, 2013, the impact of his life and political work was recognized by not just the people of South Africa and the African continent but oppressed and struggling peoples throughout the world. People of African descent outside of Africa, particularly in the United States, cherished the legacy of Mandela and saw within him much that was reflective and inspirational to the African American people’s movement for genuine equality and self-determination.

Yet what is often not recognized is the more than a century-old linkage between the South African and African American peoples which extends back even prior to the founding of the South African Native National Congress (SANNC) in 1912, which was later named the African National Congress (ANC) in 1923. Key figures within the South African and African American anti-racist movements intersected inside both the U.S. and Africa.

Early ANC Leaders and African Americans

One of the founders of the SANNC was Pixley ka Isaka Seme who was born in Natal in 1881. At the age of 17 he was able to travel to the United States where he obtained a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University in New York City.

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