Chicago Anti-Apartheid Movement

Document Type



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Publication Date

Spring 2009


African National Congress, Afrikaner Broederbond, Steve Biko, Lisa Brock, Dennis Brutus, Botswana, Wilt Chamberlain, Colombia, Coalition for Illinois' Divestment from South Africa, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Mennonite Church, Beyers Naude, Prexy Nesbitt, Bill Russell, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, Desmond Tutu, Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., Zimbabwe African National Union


Political Science | Political Theory | Race and Ethnicity | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Work, Economy and Organizations


Mr. Redekopp describes living in Botswana between 1977 and 1980, building correspondence schools for South African refugees who fled Soweto amidst the Uprising of 1976. He describes living amongst South Africans, notably attending a memorial service for Steve Biko. He states how after returning to North America, he began participating in the anti-apartheid movement. He explains how, in 1982, once settled in Chicago, he served as minister at the First Church of the Brethren in Chicago. He details his time between1980 and 1990, participating in Sing Out Against Apartheid, protests outside the Chicago South African Consulate, and divestment efforts within the church. He explains that even in conflict, people have a moral responsibility of doing what they believe is right. He summarizes his participation as being “caught up in something bigger” and being a part of a movement.

Length: 88 minutes

Oral history interview of Orlando Redekopp by Balin Pagadala

Biography and Comments

Orlando Redekopp, born in 1946, is an activist and retired pastor at the First Church of the Brethren. He was raised as a member of the Mennonite church in Winnipeg, Canada, by Ukrainian-born parents. His father was a minister, which ushered him into church activities. He enrolled in the University of Winnipeg, where he earned his BA degree in Economics and Statistics. After graduation, he taught in Colombia through a Christian service group and in Winnipeg as a part-time instructor. He then went on to work in a church-based prison ministry program for two years. Upon traveling to Botswana to build correspondence schools for South African exiles, Redekopp learned about the Apartheid regime in South Africa and continued his anti-apartheid activism after returning to the United States. Orlando Redekopp and his wife, Joan Gerig, were both active in the Chicago anti-apartheid work.

The interviewer conducted this oral history as part of his/her coursework for the Spring 2009 class, Oral History: The Art of the Interview. This interview supports the scope and content of the Chicago Anti-Apartheid Movement Collection at the College Archives & Special Collections department of Columbia College Chicago. Contact for more information and to view the collection.

Additional Files

Interview with Orlando Redekopp.pdf (244 kB)



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