About the Collection

An related collection to the Chicago Anti-Apartheid Movement collection, the Cheryl Johnson-Odim Collection is comprised of materials related to Dr. Johnson-Odim’s time as a community activist. During this period, she campaigned against the South African policy of apartheid through various grassroots organizations, bringing awareness to the Chicago area about the injustices committed. In addition to documents created by the daily activities of those groups, the collection holds materials Dr. Johnson-Odim used for her own reference, including United Nations reports and newspaper and magazine articles. The collection also has materials which provide a general background on apartheid and life for people of color in South Africa.

Collection Inventory

The Cheryl Johnson-Odim Collection online inventory guide shows the contents of the collection held at Columbia College Chicago. Please contact us with any questions.


Cheryl Johnson-Odim was born in 1948 in Ohio and spent most of her childhood in New York. She was first introduced to the injustices of apartheid in South Africa in 1963, when her school music teacher brought her to sing on a radio show with Harry Belafonte, with whom he was friends. Belafonte, who was already active in anti-apartheid movements, brought Johnson-Odim and her classmates along to a performance by a troupe of South African dancers whose United States tour he was sponsoring.

She studied at the City College of New York before transferring to Youngstown State University in Ohio, and did her graduate studies at Northwestern University. A Fulbright Fellowship to Nigeria in 1975 cemented her desire to study African history. Johnson-Odim has been active in higher education in Chicago since the 1970s, working as a professor at Northwestern University and Loyola University, a dean at Columbia College Chicago, and most recently as provost of Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois.

Related Resources

Chicago Anti- Apartheid Movement online exhibit features protest boards, posters, flyers, pamphlets and images.

Oral History interviews conducted by Columbia College Chicago students for the course, Oral History: The Art of the Interview, with members of the Chicago apartheid protest community, including Cheryl Johnson-Odim's interview

Timeline of Apartheid in South Africa exhibit explains the history of the South African apartheid government.

African Political Posters collected by Chicago anti-apartheid activists

Chicago Anti-Apartheid Movement Collection Highlights the grassroots organizations during the 1980s and 1990s that formed to protest international issues of apartheid and how activists operated to reach a common goal.

Rozell (Prexy) Nesbitt Collection An activist and organizer of anti-apartheid groups in the Midwest and abroad.

Orlando Redekopp Collection A Chicago area community activist and 1994 South African election observer.


Browse the Cheryl Johnson-Odim Anti-Apartheid Collection:

Chicago Committee in Solidarity with Southern Africa (CCISSA) Documents

Coalition for Illinois Divestment from South Africa (CIDSA) Documents

Free South Africa Movement

TransAfrica Documents

TransAfrica Local