Department of History

History of anti-Apartheid activism in Nottinghamshire

About the project 

The year 2020 marks 30 years since Nelson Mandela was freed from Victor Verster Prison. This was a defining moment for the liberation struggle in South Africa and its international supporters. By 1994 Mandela became the country’s first democratically elected president. 

In the decades preceding Mandela's release, the British Anti-Apartheid Movement played a prominent role in the fight against Apartheid. The British AAM was headquartered in London, but it had vital networks of regional groups in the UK who co-ordinated action locally. 

Studies of the British AAM have produced a rich literature and extensive archives. Many of the local groups, such as Bristol or Leeds, are well documented. Comparatively little, however, is known about the history of anti-Apartheid activism and solidarity in the Nottingham region.

This study hopes to uncover and narrate that Nottingham history using archival research as well as public engagement to capture stories and reflections from Nottinghamshire people.  

Young supporters with a 'Save the Sharpville Six' sign, John Birdsall
Young AAM supporters at a vigil for the Sharpeville Six in front of Nottingham Council House on 13 April 1988. (c) John Birdsall Social Issues

What kinds of stories?

Anti-Apartheid activism in the UK involved a wide range of activities. These ranged from demonstrations, pickets, marches and meetings, through to government lobbying and consumer, cultural and sporting boycotts. It encompassed all kinds of events and gatherings in communities, to raise funds or collect material aid, increase awareness and express solidarity.  

Who can contribute?

All contributions are welcome, no matter how ‘small’. We would like to hear from anyone who has a story or recollection about any form of anti-Apartheid activity in the Nottingham area. 

These might include:

  • activities co-ordinated by the AAM branch
  • activities linked to other groups (e.g. a local community organisation, church, student group, political group, or union)
  • actions and events you yourself participated in
  • stories about family members or friends
  • memories of seeing or hearing things in the local area or on the news 

We are particularly keen to hear from any members of Nottingham’s black, Asian, and other ethnic minority communities who have stories or opinions they want to share. Black British solidarity was a vital dimension of the movement against Apartheid and the links with anti-racism in Britain are an important issue.

How to contribute

You can tell us your story via an online form.

Before you contribute, please read the participation information sheet, consent form and the University’s privacy notice carefully. This explains how we process and protect your data. 

By proceeding to complete the form, you are confirming that you have read the participation information sheet, consent form and privacy notice and are satisfied with the contents. As indicated in these documents, you have the option of complete anonymity for your contribution or you may prefer to be identified if we include your story in the dissemination of findings.

If you are happy to proceed, go to the online story form.  

Please contact the researchers by email if you have any queries. 

Sharing the results of the research

The first publication of research findings is now ready: Mapping the history of anti-apartheid activism in Nottinghamshire, a collection of stories and images linked to geographical locations in Nottingham, Mansfield and Worksop. 

In 2022, the materials will be expanded into a hard copy publication featuring more story detail, memorabilia, thematic context and portraits of the activists.Nottingham AAM members at the vigil and demonstration to support the 'Sharpeville Six' at Nottingham Town Hall.  (C) John Birdsall Social Issues

Nottingham AAM members at the vigil and demonstration to support the 'Sharpeville Six' at Nottingham Council House. (C) John Birdsall Social Issues 

Who's involved

Kate LawLisa Clarkson

Social media

Follow the project on Twitter

Participant links

Participant information sheet
Consent formPrivacy notice
Submit your online story


Download the project poster

News and media

Watch our video about the project

The project has featured in University of Nottingham's alumni magazine Connect.

Download the Connect article (PDF)

The project featured in the NDLHS newsletter in November 2020.

Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Labour History Society newsletter (PDF)

First publication

An online collection of stories and images spotlighting the people, places, events and themes of anti-apartheid campaigning in Nottingham city and county on interactive platform History Pin. 

View this collection on History Pin

Related projects

Fighting Fertility




Department of History

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

Contact details