America and South Africa- Same but Different?

have-you-heard-joburg_WEBHave You Heard From Johannesburg? part 5 focused on the United States and what the struggles they had when there was separation between the anti-apartheid activists and the people who thought that not supporting South Africa would hurt our economy.

The United States and South Africa at one time were similar, because the different races were segregated.  Through time, the US granted people their civil rights, allowing African Americans the rights they deserved to make them equal citizens.  However, South Africa was much slower in this process, and gave the blacks and other races no rights.  When the civil rights were still non-existent for African Americans, they had some privileges  but  were still denied the right to vote, and were not treated equally.  South Africans were never treated equally, the different races were completely different when it came to any type of right.  The whites felt that they could rule however they wanted to, and the blacks could not defend themselves.

Ronald Reagan with Bishop Desmond Tutu

Reagan with Desmond Tutu, after discussing Apartheid and disagreeing on some policies

In the United States, there were many Colleges and Universities where the students were protesting in order to divest money from South Africa.  I feel that they were so supportive of South Africa because they were more educated about it.  The protests started with many prestigious schools.  There were other countries who, in the earlier parts of the series of Have You Heard From Johannesburg?, also tried to boycott South African products.  This idea did not make anything change in South Africa, but it gave the world information about Apartheid.

In America, we had been a country integrated for a while, and I feel that they wanted to support South Africa so much because they knew it isn’t right to segregate especially to the extent that Apartheid was.  President Reagan did not support the bills that were trying to be passed because he thought that divesting would hurt our economy.  The protests from the schools caused specific colleges and universities to divest, which then caused multiple states to decided to not buy South African products. This obviously caught Reagan’s attention.  The African Americans were excited that there was change in America.  Because America is a world leader, it was important for South Africa to have them on their side.  Reagan tried to veto a bill which would help impose sanctions in South Africa.  However, more than two thirds of Congress decided to override it, and it passed. This was a tremendous achievement for South Africa, and the African Americans in the United States.


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