Chicago Anti-Apartheid Movement

Document Type



Media is loading

Publication Date

Spring 2010


Black United Fund of Illinois, Robert Lee Brokenburr, Madam C. J. Walker, Shortridge High School, Richard Lugar, Indianapolis (Ind.), Emmett Till, Tuskegee University, Wallace Terry, Indiana University Bloomington, Herman B. Wells, Martin Luther King Jr., Krugerrand (Coin), Chicago Free South Africa Movement, Robinson, Randall Robinson, African National Congress, Donald Mosby, Harold Washington, Gus Savage, Richard Newhouse, Pete Seeger, Carol Moseley-Braun, Nelson Mandela, Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Black Athletes United in the Light, Vernon Jarrett, Northwestern University, Louis Martin, United Nations


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


Length: 107 minutes

Oral history interview of Alice Palmer by Katherine Elizabeth McAuliff

As a youth, Palmer mentions, she encountered news of South African Apartheid through a magazine to which her grandparents subscribed, outlining methods of classifying race in the country, particularly through hair texture. In college, Palmer mentions a deepened awareness of the issues in South Africa, which propelled her student activism during the boycott against the Krugerrand. Palmer also describes her involvement in organizing the Free South Africa Movement with other Chicago-based activists. She describes the demonstrations between November 1984 and March 1985 in front of the South African Consulate on South Michigan Street to urge divestment from the city. She explains how, after being arrested in one of the January protests, she and eight other protestors were put on trial and eventually acquitted based on the Law of Necessity, based on their need to demonstrate for the people in South Africa and the international atrocity of the Apartheid regime. She describes protesting outside of the South African Consulate to correct misinformation published by the Chicago Tribune.

Biography and Comments

Alice Palmer was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1939 where she and her brother were raised by her parents and grandparents. She earned her B.S. degree in English and Sociology from Indiana University. She earned an M.S. degree from Roosevelt University and a Ph.D. from Northwestern University. Palmer began teaching at both Malcolm X College in Chicago and Northwestern University. While at Northwestern, she co-authored two books and served as Associate Dean and Director of African American Student Affairs at Northwestern University. In 1991, she was appointed to the Illinois State Senate to fill the remainder of a term and then was elected to serve a four-year term.

The interviewer conducted this oral history as part of his/her coursework for the Spring 2010 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 Alice Palmer.pdf (226 kB)



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.