While the U.S. tennis team was busy routing the South Africans this weekend in the Davis Cup competition at Vanderbilt University, thousands of people marched through the streets protesting U.S. cooperation with apartheid.
Half the seats in the 9500-seat auditorium were empty, and a spokesman for one of the groups organizing the protest attributed the poor attendance to the demonstrators.
After marches through downtown Nashville Friday and Saturday, protesters set up picket lines outside the Vanderbilt gym where the matches took place.
The NAACP held a rally on Saturday afternoon featuring comedian and political activist Dick Gregory, and Benjamin Hooks, executive director of the NAACP.
Wayne Kamin, a member of the American Friends Service Committee, another protest sponsor, characterized the demonstrations as peaceful and restrained with only one arrest in a rock-throwing incident. Kamin added that demonstrators jeered at departing spectators, but protest leaders restrained any tendency toward violence.
Spokesmen for the protest groups said their purpose was to educate the public about racism and oppression in America as well as in South Africa. David Huet-Vaughn, chairman of the Tennessee Coalition Against Apartheid, said demonstrations like the one this weekend will "provide the impetus for a future national movement to cut out international racism like a cancer."