Alexander Defense Committee Records, 1962-1971

Summary Information
Title: Alexander Defense Committee Records
Inclusive Dates: 1962-1971

  • Alexander Defense Committee
Call Number: Micro 768

Quantity: 3 reels of microfilm (35mm)

Archival Locations:
Wisconsin Historical Society (Map)

Records of the Alexander Defense Committee, an international organization (1964-1968) formed to protest apartheid and to support Dr. Neville Alexander and other South African political prisoners. In the collection are correspondence, newsletters, clippings, promotional material for national speaking tours, and files on ADC chapters in the United States, Canada, and Europe. Also present are speeches and writings of I. B. Tabata and Franz J. T. Lee, who toured the United States to raise funds for the group and for the families of the prisoners; papers documenting ADC's role in the deportation case of W. M. Tsotsi; and scattered records of other organizations supporting the ADC such as the American Committee on Africa and Unity Movement of South Africa. Most papers are written in English, but others are in German, French, Dutch, and an African language, possibly Xhosa.

Language: English, German, French, Dutch, Xhosa

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The Alexander Defense Committee (ADC) was an international organization which was established to protest South African apartheid and to assist South African political prisoners and their families. The event that spurred the formation of the ADC was the arrest in July 1963 in Cape Town of Dr. Neville Alexander, a young black literary scholar with a degree from Tubingen University in West Germany, and ten other South Africans. Among them were Alexander's sister Dorothy, a teacher, and Fikele Bam, a law student. All were charged with the crime of opposition to the government and its policy of apartheid, and with membership in the National Liberation Front. After a trial in November 1963, Alexander and four other defendents were sentenced to ten years in the notorious Robben Island prison.

Protest against the treatment of Alexander and the others first began in Germany, among Alexander's friends from his university days. Franz J. T. Lee, a fellow South African student, conducted a drive that collected over 5000 signatures on a petition presented to the United Nations. In September 1964, the Alexander Defense Committee was formed in London.

Liberals in the United States established the American branch of the Committee on February 6, 1965 in New York City. Paul Boutelle, a black socialist leader, was chairman of the group, Berta Green Langston and Robert Langston were its corresponding and executive secretaries, and David Dellinger was treasurer. Original sponsors included Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Carl and Anne Braden, and Staughton Lynd. In the summer of 1965 regional chapters of the ADC were formed to organize local fund-raising and publicity. The first of two major fund-raising events was a tour of the United States by I. B. Tabata, president of the Unity Movement of South Africa, an anti-apartheid group. Tabata toured the country from October 25 to December 15, 1965. From August 31 to November 7, 1966, Franz J. T. Lee toured the United States as European representative of the African People's Democratic Union of Southern Africa. The money collected from these tours and speeches was donated to the families of the prisoners, and used to defray legal expenses of court appeals. Another goal of the fund-raising tours was the publicizing of the evils of apartheid.

In May 1966 the United States Department of Justice attempted to have the ADC register as an agent of a foreign principal under the Foreign Agents Act of 1938. A letter writing campaign sponsored by the ADC and the efforts of New York Senators Robert F. Kennedy and William Ryan ended the government's action. In November of the following year, the ADC helped stop the deportation of W. M. Tsotsi, vice-president of the Unity Movement of South Africa, from Zambia to South Africa. The organization was disbanded in 1968.

Scope and Content Note

The collection primarily reflects the work of Robert and Berta Green Langston, and contains correspondence, newsclippings, newsletters, and promotional material for national speaking tours, as well as personal writings of the speakers. Most of the papers are written in English, but others are in German, French, Dutch, and an African language, possibly Xhosa.

The correspondence contains both general and specific files, and includes letters to and from Alexander's mother, as well as correspondence with various supporting groups and individuals, and with the United States Department of Justice. The collection is lacking in financial records, with the exception of a folder detailing the transfer of funds from the U.S. ADC to the prisoners' families in South Africa. Two sketchy financial statements are located with General Papers, in addition to news releases, papers, and reports of ADC. Copies of the Committee's official newsletter, “Notes from ADC,” date from 1965 to 1967.

Records of individual ADC chapters comprise a large segment of the collection, and date primarily from 1965 and 1966. In general, these papers pertain to the fund-raising tours. With this series are records of the Toronto chapter, and of European chapters, in particular those in Britain, Germany, and France. Other organizations, listed in the last series, include other U.S. and European groups involved in debating or combating apartheid and in opposing the South African government. Much of this material is in printed form.

Administrative/Restriction Information
Acquisition Information

Originals loaned for copying by Robert and Berta Green Langston, Catskill, New York, 1978. Accession Number: M78-13

Processing Information

Processed by Menzi Behrnd Klodt, August 1979.

Contents List
Reel   1
Frame   1-46
General, 1965-1968
Reel   1
Frame   47-109
Alexander, Mrs. D. B., 1965-1968
Reel   1
Frame   110-120
Conyers, John, Jr., 1965-1966
Reel   1
Frame   121-192
Re: Justice Department, 1966
Reel   1
Frame   193-291
Sponsors of ADC, 1965-1966
Reel   1
Frame   292-299
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, 1966
Reel   1
Frame   300-305
Students for a Democratic Society, 1965-1966
Reel   1
Frame   306-336
Alexander, Dr. Neville, Writings and Clippings, 1964-1965
Reel   1
Frame   337-378
Funds for Legal Defense and for Families of Prisoners, 1965-1967
Reel   1
Frame   379-494
General Papers, 1963-1967
Lee, Franz J. T.
Reel   1
Frame   495-634
Papers, 1966-1968
Reel   1
Frame   635-859
Writings, circa 1964-1966
Reel   1
Frame   860-909
“Notes from ADC,” 1965-1967
Tabata, I. B.
Reel   1
Frame   910-963
Speeches and Writings, 1962-1966
Reel   2
Frame   1-50
Tour of the United States, 1965
Reel   2
Frame   51-121
Tsotsi, W. M., Case, Papers, 1967
ADC Chapter Papers
Reel   2
Frame   122-145
Boston, 1965-1967
Reel   2
Frame   146-171
Chicago, 1965-1966
Reel   2
Frame   172-188
Cleveland, 1965
Reel   2
Frame   189-193
Denver, 1965
Reel   2
Frame   194-234
Detroit, 1965-1966
Reel   2
Frame   235-325
European Chapters, 1963-1965
Reel   2
Frame   326-329
Houston, 1965
Reel   2
Frame   330-339
Los Angeles, 1965-1966
Reel   2
Frame   340-357
Madison, Wisconsin, 1965
Reel   2
Frame   358-369
Minneapolis, 1965
Reel   2
Frame   370-381
New York City, 1966
Reel   2
Frame   382-383
Philadelphia, 1965
Reel   2
Frame   384-412
San Francisco and Berkeley, 1965-1966
Reel   2
Frame   413-436
Seattle, Washington, 1965-1966
Reel   2
Frame   437-492
Toronto, 1965-1966, 1968
Reel   2
Frame   493-599
Toronto - “News from the Alexander Defence Committee (Canada),” 1965-1968
Reel   2
Frame   600-601
Washington, D.C., 1966
Reel   2
Frame   602-610
Other U.S. Chapters and Miscellaneous, 1966
Other Organizations
Reel   2
Frame   611-769
American Committee on Africa, 1963-1968
Reel   2
Frame   770-799
Committee of Conscience Against Apartheid, 1966-1967
Reel   2
Frame   800-814
South African Non-Racial Olympic Committee (SAN-ROC), 1966
Reel   2
Frame   815-1001
United Nations, 1965-1968
Reel   3
Frame   1-8
United Nations, 1965-1968
Reel   3
Frame   9-338
Unity Movement of South Africa and “APDUSA” Newsletters, 1965-1969, 1971