Elizabeth M. Williams
The Politics of Race in Britain and South Africa
Black British Solidarity and the Anti-Apartheid Movement
I. B. Tauris 2015
In 1951 a West-Indian seaman was killed in Cape Town by two white policemen. His murder had initiated protests and demonstrations in the Caribbean and in London. This, tells us Dr. Elizabeth M. Williams, was the beginning of the international Anti-apartheid movement. In The Politics of Race in Britain and South Africa: Black British Solidarity and the Anti-Apartheid Movement (I.B.Tauris, 2015), Williams marries two histories that are usually treated separately, the history of the British anti-apartheid movement (AAM) and the history of black activism in Britain to reveal a hidden history of black anti-apartheid activism in Britain. The book argues that black individuals rejected the AAM because it did not engage with domestic forms of racism and discrimination. The predominantly white constituency of the AAM as an organization, and its close ties to the African National Congress rather than the Pan Africanist Congress, added further discomfort.
Williams ushers in evidence from a variety of published and unpublished documents from official state, organizational and newspaper archives. She enriches the narrative and her argument by weaving in oral interviews conducted with leading figures of the black anti-apartheid struggle in Britain and politicians involved with British foreign policy in South Africa.
Elizabeth M. Williams is a historian of modern British history, Africa and the African diaspora. She is an academic Librarian and is based at Goldsmith’s University of London.