May 9, 2009
On Saturday, May 9, 2009, South Africa inaugurated Jacob Zuma its new president just a day shy of exactly 15 years from the date Nelson Mandela was sworn in to the country’s highest office after winning South Africa’s first all-race elections in 1994.
Zuma, member of the African National Congress, was jailed for 10 years with Mandela and other leaders of the anti-apartheid struggle. The members of the Congressional Black Caucus played an important role in lobbying the U.S. Congress to put pressure on the South African apartheid government to release prisoners such as Zuma and Mandela. In 1986, Representative George Crockett of Michigan sought unsuccessfully to get the House to approve a resolution calling on South Africa to free political prisoners, and to recognize the African National Congress as the legitimate representative of the country’s black majority. Though these efforts were initially unsuccessful, further pressure and discussions about sanctions and legislation against South Africa eventually led to the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986.
To read more about the role of the Congressional Black Caucus in ending apartheid visit the Avoice Anti-Apartheid Movement Exhibit at www.avoiceonline.org/aam.