Avoice Remembers the First All-Race Elections in South Africa – April 26-29, 1994

Ensuring Rights and Representation for All South Africans

Less than five years after the passage of the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986, the world witnessed the dismantling of apartheid laws and the release of political prisoners such as Nelson Mandela. It was not until April of 1994 that South Africa’s first all-race elections were held. Lines for the election stretched for more than a mile in some areas and with voters waiting up to 12 hours to cast their ballots in others. Though many feared violence would erupt, over the four day election period from April 26 to April 29, but peace remained in tact. More than 17 million black South Africans over the age of 18 voted for the first time during those four days and their votes led to a new national assembly in which black South Africans and women served in significant numbers for the first time.

The members of the Congressional Black Caucus played an important role in lobbying the U.S. Congress to pass the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act and over rule President Ronald Reagan’s veto, the step many believe provided the necessary economic pressure to end apartheid. Many of these CBC leaders were present to see the old system of white minority rule shift as Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as the first black president of South Africa on May 10, 1994 in Pretoria, South Africa.

To learn about the work of CBC members to end apartheid in South Africa, visit the Avoice Anti-Apartheid Exhibit at

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