Hi! My name is Kaila Rain and I’m a senior at the University of San Francisco. I’ve been an intern here at the Freedom Archives since June. I started out like the many interns before me, learning the ways of the archives- cataloging, organizing, and preservation – and spending a lot of my time with my nose in a box of materials, taking in the words of revolutionaries who fought for the freedoms I have today. And then one day, it was time for me to start my own project and given my interests, I quickly decided to explore the relationship between American Civil Rights leaders and South African Liberation leaders during their respective struggles for freedom.
When I first started this project, I wanted to show how Black American Civil Rights leaders influenced/inspired Black South African leaders and vice versa and was also curious to see if these relationships remained intact beyond the struggle for freedom. What I found out early on in my research was that it is inaccurate to limit my analysis only to the major leaders of each struggle – it was also imperative that I look at the lesser known voices of the anti-Apartheid struggle.
One of the archival resources I looked at was these digitized interviews with PAC (Pan African Congress) representative Elizabeth Sibeko when she visited the Bay Area in 1986.
Engaging resources like these, I regrouped and made sure to look beyond major figures and seek answers from small, local organizations that were made up of the everyday people who felt it was their humanly duty to stand up and fight for their brothers and sisters overseas. What I came to find was that Americans saw what was happening in Apartheid South Africa and came together within their communities to form collective voices to speak up for the Black South Africans who were stripped of their rights, imprisoned, and murdered. South African revolutionary organizations and leaders received America’s message of solidarity which inspired them to keep fighting. It wasn’t just leaders who were responsible for influencing others’ movements. It was the solidarity on both sides that inspired revolution.
Over the next few weeks I will continue taking a closer look at the some of these people and organizations.