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To Thread the Conscience: Michigan State University and the Anti-apartheid Movement

Four Dead in Ohio

ISBN: 978-1-80071-808-1, eISBN: 978-1-80071-807-4

Publication date: 6 July 2021


From the 1960s onwards, students and members of the academic community on growing numbers of college and university campuses in the United States chose to confront the issue of apartheid by advocating divestment from corporations or financial institutions with any sort of presence in or relationship with South Africa. Student divestment advocates faced serious opposition from university administrators as well as opponents of institutional divestiture both at home and abroad. Despite these challenges, the academic community in the United States was one of the first arenas where anti-apartheid activism coalesced. This chapter examines the campaigns of students and educators who participated in the debate over divestment – to engage with the South African government and apartheid through dialogue and communication or to disengage completely from the country through withdrawal of financial investments. The anti-apartheid efforts of the academic community at Michigan State University, one of the first large research universities in the United States to confront the issue of apartheid and divestment at the university level and beyond, serves as a window to view academic activism against apartheid. The Southern Africa Liberation Committee (SALC), a consortium of students, faculty, and community members dedicated to aiding the liberation struggle of Southern Africa, led the efforts at Michigan State and collaborated with allies across Michigan and the United States. SALC focused most of its efforts on South Africa, though the organization also confronted the issue of South Africa's controversial occupation of South West Africa and the ongoing civil war in Angola.



Morgan, E.J. (2021), "To Thread the Conscience: Michigan State University and the Anti-apartheid Movement", Solomon, J.A. (Ed.) Four Dead in Ohio (Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change, Vol. 45), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 11-31.



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