Southern Africa Solidarity T-Shirt Exhibit Opens at MSU
Published: Monday, 01 Oct 2012
An exhibit of 35 T-shirts from the Southern Africa Solidarity movement opened on October 1 in the lobby of the International Center, part of Michigan State University's recognition of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa.
"These solidarity T-shirts show the creativity of activists in the Southern Africa Solidarity movement," said James Pritchett, director of the African Studies Center. " The T-shirts were made for campaigns in East Lansing and Ann Arbor as well as those from New York to California."
Prexy Nesbitt from Chicago spoke at the exhibit opening, talking about his more than 45 years of solidarity work on Africa. Nesbitt, along time activist who teaches at both Columbia College in Chicago and Kalamazoo College, has donated a collection of 50 solidarity T-shirts to the MSU Library Special Collections. These T-shirts depict the campaigns that Nesbitt led, particularly those in South Africa and Mozambique.
The African Studies Center developed the exhibit in collaboration with the MSU Library, where more than two dozen collections donated by the former activists are adding to the Library's nationally-known strengths in both African studies, American radicalism, and African Activism.
The African Activist Archive Project, sponsored by the African Studies Center, has not only encouraged donations of physical collections, but it is also continuing to expand an online archive of more than 5,700 documents, T-shirts, posters, buttons, photographs, and audio and video recordings that are available for free at the African Activists Archive.
The history of Southern Africa Solidarity organized at Michigan State University, is displayed in the exhibited T-shirts as well as in the documents and photographs on the African Activist Archive website. During the 1970s and 1980s, David Wiley, the former director of the African Studies Center and a member of the Southern African Liberation Committee at MSU said, "MSU students and faculty made important contributions to this national movement." The Board of Trustees voted in 1978 to sell MSU's stocks in companies operating in apartheid South Africa, which helped pave the way for three divestment bills adopted by the State of Michigan and for the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act passed by the U.S. Congress in 1986. Wiley added, "Today's young activists can learn a lot from both the 100-year history of the African National Congress in South Africa and the international solidarity movement that supported the people there."