Activism returned to campus Sunday night with the first anti-apartheid protest of the summer.
More than 150 people gathered outside Massachusetts Hall for a subdued demonstration against South Africa's repressive racial policies.
Under a clear, moonlit sky, the crowd joined in choruses of "We Shall Overcome" and listened to political speeches by representatives of the Black South African opposition.
With flickering candles in hand, the group then snaked its way through the Yard and into the Square, shouting slogans and toting placards that bore the names of Blacks killed in the struggle against South African apartheid. People on the sidewalks along Mass. Ave clapped and cheered, and passing cars honked their horns.
A group of law students organized the event, which drew participants from nearby schools and neighborhoods. Third year law student Susan Keller '83, a coordinator of the Law School Anti-Apartheid Committee, said the rally was called to protest the state of emergency recently declared in the strife-torn land.
Following months of heightened violence and unrest, South Africa's white minority government declared a national alert nine days ago. The state of emergency gave authorities broad police powers, which they have used to jail almost 1000 Blacks and opposition leaders.
Harvard students have long called for the University to sell its holdings in corporations doing business in South Africa. Divestment protests peaked this past spring with a series of rallies and demonstrations, two of which resulted in disciplinary proceedings currently pending against participants.
President Bok has firmly opposed divestment, favoring a policy of "intensive dialogue" with companies in its $585 million South Africa related portfolio. Bok has argued that such dialogue can produce improved conditions for Black South African workers.
In an impassioned speech from the steps of Mass. Hall, a representative of the outlawed African Nations Congress (A.N.C.) urged Sunday's crowd to continue the pressure for Harvard to divest.
"One of the problems in South Africa is that our subjugation, our suffering, has profited some people most dearly," said Themba Vilakazi "Multinational corporations are in South Africa precisely because they have profited from our subjugation We want them to pull out."
vilakazi dismissed arguments that Black South Africans would suffer if Western companies withdrew their operations "Remove the economic support that you give to the white minority government in South Africa. We will deal with the rest," he said.
Activity draped the yellow, green, and black ANC, flag over the door to Mass Hill, Which they dubbed "Biko Hall" atter Stephen Biko, the slain Black leader.
Keller said the protest organizers hoped to enlist summer school student to the divestment cause, and at the end of the rally's, she urged them to take the evening's message to their high school and college.