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Students Protest Apartheid

Student demonstrations against Harvard’s investment in South Africa hit an all-time high after Jesse Jackson spoke at Harvard

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Thomas J. Winslow ’87 said that his role in the anti-apartheid movement propelled him to write a senior thesis about marriage laws in repressive societies, including apartheid South Africa.

After graduating from Harvard, Winslow decided to study at the University of Cape Town. He later established a psycho-social programme for released political prisoners, before co-founding a trauma center for survivors of torture and political violence.

Though Harvard refused to divest completely from South Africa, the University decided to establish a fellowship for black South Africans to spend a year at Harvard in 1979.  After graduation Winslow and one of the South African fellows, Mary Jane Morifi, traveled throughout South Africa “not only to meet activists and academics, but to see how apartheid impacted the lives of ordinary black people.”

Now, Winslow and Morifi are married and live in Johannesburg with their two children.

“Perhaps it was a strange twist of fate—Harvard’s failure to disinvest, shanties in Harvard Yard, the fellowship programme for black South Africans, and my academic interests—that eventually brought us together,” Winslow wrote in an e-mail to The Crimson.

Today, Winslow interviews South African high school students applying to Harvard.

“It’s as important as ever that young gifted South Africans have the same opportunities to join the Harvard undergraduate community—not as historically disadvantaged victims of apartheid, as they might have been characterised in the past—but as intellectual equals to any other global candidates for admissions,” Winslow wrote.

PROTESTORS OF TOMORROW

Raskin said that alarming levels of corporate misconduct have influenced the current generation of students—from the Massey Energy Corporation in West Virginia, to BP Oil in the Gulf of Mexico, to Goldman Sachs on Wall Street.

“When I look at the state of the world today, it seems a lot more frightful and perilous than when I was in college,” he said.

Raskin added that young people’s enthusiasm and organization around President Barack Obama’s campaign is proof that students today are still eager to be politically active.

In 2001, strong student organization was evidenced, when undergraduates staged a sit-in to urge the University to pay its employees a living wage. Silvers was involved in some of the negotiations between students and administrators as a third-party labor representative.

Silvers said that his experience as a witness in disciplinary hearings in 2001 with the once-again resurrected CRR created a feeling of “déjà vu,” bringing back memories of his own experience with the CRR in 1985.

According to Winslow, global poverty and achieving the Millennium Development goals are the most pressing issues for today’s students.

“I would hope that the current generation of Harvard graduates would rise to the challenge of eliminating global poverty in the same way my generation participated in the social movement of our time,” he said.­

—Staff writer Zoe A. Y. Weinberg can be reached at zoe.weinberg@college.harvard.edu.

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