Capital District Coalition Against Apartheid and Racism Records, 1981-1995
- Founded by a group of Albany area residents who organized to prevent the Springboks, the all-white South African national rugby team representing the apartheid South African government, from playing a game against the American all-star rugby team in Albany scheduled in 1981.
- 6 Reels
- English .
- Preferred citation:
- Preferred citation for this material is as follows: and Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, Capital District Coalition Against Apartheid and Racism (CD-CAAR), 1981-1995. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as the CD-CAAR Records).
Access and Use
- Conditions Governing Access:
Access to this record group is unrestricted.
Per the microfilming agreement, the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives may allow research use of the filmed records and grant permission for the scholarly non-commerical publication of quotes from them. Rights to the microfilmed materials still reside with the Capital District Coalition Against Apartheid and Racism.
- Scope and Content:
The bulk of the records of the Capital District Coalition Against Apartheid and Racism documents the organization's involvement in the fight against apartheid in South Africa, while a smaller amount details its struggle against police abuse in Albany, New York and around the United States. Due to the chronological organization of most records, references to topics are scattered throughout the collection. CD-CAAR records consist of correspondence, police and court documents, fliers, announcements of meetings, newsletters, pamphlets, handouts, a few minutes from steering committee meetings, and newspaper clippings. Most of the newspaper clippings, and many of the police and court documents are photocopies of the original papers, therefore the quality of the microfilm image may be inconsistent.
Almost all of the early records relate to CD-CAA's fight against the rugby demonstration in September, 1981, and the legal repercussions stemming from the protest. CD-CAAR promoted the isolation of South Africa by advocating cultural, financial and sports boycotts beginning in 1981 and continuing throughout the organization's existence. Included are police surveillance records of groups participating in the rugby demonstration such as CD-CAAR. Also included are police records of the 1981 raid on Vera Michelson's apartment conducted by the Albany Police Department as well as records relating to the arrest of Vera Michelson and three of her colleagues: Aaron Estes, Michael Young and John Spearman. The court records include trial testimony in the unsuccessful prosecution of Michael Young and John Spearman. Young was represented by noted attorney William M. Kunstler. The court records also contain documents relating to the successful 1982 countersuit by Michelson against the FBI, the New York State Police, the Albany Police Department, members of the Albany County District Attorney's Office, the County of Albany, the City of Albany and individuals in these organizations. Documentation of CD-CAAR's educational programs dealing with apartheid and racism is concentrated in the Coalition Activities series, but may also be found throughout the collection.
CD-CAAR's records contain substantial documentation of the organization's struggle against police abuse and efforts to establish and secure an effective Albany police review board. CD-CAAR's fight against domestic racism began in 1981 and included targeting racial abuse by Albany Police Department officers and racial hatred advocated by the Ku Klux Klan. Small in quantity, documents relating to anti-Klan activities can be found throughout the collection including some newspaper articles in the Rugby Demonstrations Clippings series. Many of the records relating to the organization's fight against police abuse can be found in the series titled Police Abuse, 1987-1994. The newsletter editor's files contain documents relating to CD-CAAR's Committee on Police and Racial Violence (1987-1989). Most of the other documents relating to police abuse are located in the Coalition Activities file beginning in 1984 and continuing throughout the series. Records documenting forums sponsored by CD-CAAR in a continuing effort to educate the community on topics such as racism and violence can be found throughout the collection.
Most of the records documenting CD-CAAR's campaign to isolate the apartheid South African government by picketing and boycotting entertainers who performed in South Africa (1982-), as well as those referring to CD-CAAR's participation in picketing state and federal buildings in an effort to block investment in South Africa (1985-) are located in the Coalition Activities series. The rest of the records are scattered throughout the collection.
Records documenting CD-CAAR's interest in the "frontline states" of Namibia, Mozambique and Angola beginning circa 1984 are scattered throughout the collection. Documents on Namibia (1984) and Mozambique (1991-1994) can be found in the newsletter editor's files since Eileen Kawola, CD-CAAR newsletter editor, had a special interest in the frontline states around South Africa. The files include information about raising money for the elections in Namibia and for schools in Mozambique.
The correspondence file consists mainly of letters sent by the Capital District Coalition Against Apartheid and Racism. There are some letters received by CD-CAAR which include correspondence from New York State politicians such as Assemblywoman Cynthia Jenkins regarding divestiture and Albany Mayor Thomas M. Whalen, III, regarding Albany's position regarding the issue of apartheid, organizations involved in the fight against apartheid such as Pan Africanist Congress of Azania, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Transafrica, and copies of letters sent out by the law firm of Walter, Thayer and Long.
There are only a few documents from 1995. There is a newsletter from March, 1995 announcing the reorganization of CD-CAAR and the renaming of the organization to Capital District Coalition for Southern Africa and Against Racism which can be found in the Newsletters, 1983-1995 series. The only other documents from 1995 are found in the Coalition Activities series. They consist of newspaper clippings relating the 1995 case of the People vs. Quibilah B. Shabazz to the arrest of members of CD-CAAR in 1981 and a subpoena for Vera Michelson, one of those arrested in 1981, to testify in the Shabazz case.
- Biographical / Historical:
The Capital District Coalition Against Apartheid and Racism (CD-CAAR) was founded by a group of Albany, NY area residents who organized to prevent the Springboks, the all-white South African national rugby team representing the apartheid South African government, from playing a game against the American all-star rugby team in Albany scheduled for September 22, 1981. "Out of that organizing effort, the Capital District Coalition Against Apartheid and Racism was born".  Originally known as the Capital District Coalition Against Apartheid (CD-CAA), the organization added Racism to their title in the months following the Springbok game to emphasize that their fight was against racism, both domestic and international, as well as South African apartheid.
CD-CAAR became a member of the Social Justice Center after its formation as an organization in 1981. The Social Justice Center, "an umbrella organization for groups in the Capital District which work on issues of peace and justice," encouraged members of the community to participate in CD-CAAR events. CD-CAAR also worked closely with the Albany chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) presidents including E.J. Josey and Anne Pope, as well as with Alice Green, Director of The Center for Law and Justice, Inc. and other prominent community leaders. CD-CAAR was an informal organization and kept few minutes of meetings. According to Eileen Kawola, CD-CAAR newsletter editor and a steering committee member, the committee structure was very fluid.
In the early to mid-1980s, CD-CAAR's campaign to isolate the apartheid South African government took the form of picketing and boycotting entertainers who performed in South Africa in an attempt to convince them to issue public apologies and to stop performing there until apartheid ended. The first cultural boycott demonstration instigated by CD-CAAR occurred in 1982 when Chick Corea was scheduled to perform at the Troy Music Hall in Troy, New York. CD-CAAR also took part in picketing state and federal buildings in an effort to block investment in South Africa. In 1985 CD-CAAR participated in a divestment campaign to remove New York State pension funds from companies operating in South Africa. The group also joined with the Free South Africa Movement by participating in nationally coordinated actions. On January 17, 1985 CD-CAAR conducted an anti-apartheid demonstration at the Leo O'Brien Federal Building in Albany.
In a further attempt at fighting apartheid, CD-CAAR erected a 24-hour mock shanty town at the Capitol in Albany on June 25, 1986 to symbolize the forced removal of black South Africans from their homes. CD-CAAR co-founded the Northeast Southern Africa Solidarity Network (NESASN) circa 1988. NESASN was a network of anti-apartheid organizations from nine surrounding states, working with the other groups to end apartheid and racism. CD-CAAR also collaborated with and relied heavily on the resources of three national organizations: the American Committee on Africa, the Washington Office on Africa, and the Mozambique Solidarity Network.
CD-CAAR expanded its focus to include a variety of areas relating to apartheid and racism. Recognizing that apartheid affected areas other than South Africa, beginning circa 1984 CD-CAAR attempted to help the southern region of Africa, especially the "frontline states" of Namibia, Mozambique and Angola. Among other things, CD-CAAR raised money for the elections in Namibia and for schools in Mozambique. As CD-CAAR became active in educational forums and anti-war efforts, the group became increasingly interested in United States foreign policy. In 1986 CD-CAAR began sponsoring programs and distributing educational materials in opposition to the United States' foreign policy in areas such as Cuba, Grenada, Haiti, Iraq, Nicaragua and Zaire. There are few records relating to this activity in CD-CAAR's records.
CD-CAAR fought racism at home as well as abroad since its founding in 1981. Shortly after its formation, CD-CAAR participated in anti-Ku Klux Klan demonstrations in Albany and across Vermont in cooperation with the Albany chapter of the NAACP. The organization was particularly active in targeting racial abuse by the Albany Police Department. After the 1984 death of Jesse Davis, an African American killed by police officers, CD-CAAR protested the police action and joined in the demand for an Albany Police Review Board. The Community Police Relations Board (occasionally referred to in the press as the Police Community Relations Board) was formed by Albany Mayor Thomas M. Whalen III in 1986. The goal of the board was to form a cooperative spirit between the Albany Police Department and the community. CD-CAAR held one of the fifteen seats on the Community Police Relations Board and chose Albany attorney Mark Mishler, a steering committee member of CD-CAAR, as its first representative. CD-CAAR subsequently criticized the Community Police Relations Board contending that the board did not have the power or authority to investigate police abuse and deal with officers who abused members of the community. The group also sponsored forums on topics such as racism and violence.
The release of Nelson Mandela, and the subsequent 1994 elections in South Africa which brought an end to the apartheid regime and introduced democracy, altered the mission of CD-CAAR. In 1995, CD-CAAR reorganized in recognition of the new conditions and focused its efforts on supporting the new South African government. The new organization changed its name to the Capital District Coalition for Southern Africa and Against Racism. None of the new organization's papers are present in this collection.
Partial list of CD-CAAR board and steering committee members: Herb Crossman, co-chair, early yearsRev. Robert Dixon, co-chair, early yearsMike Dollard, co-chair, early yearsE.J. Josey, co-chair, early yearsClara Salterfield, co-chair, early yearsVera Michelson, co-chair, early years-1995Merton Simpson, co-chair, early years-1995Roli Varma, treasurerEileen Kawola, newsletter editorJim BouldinGail ByrneCelia Bess CottenReverend Robert DixonShobhna GopalFred KakumbaMabel LeonDeborah MaxwellMark MishlerBill RitchieYvette ScarlettVickie SmithAnita ThayerPat TrowersOdell WinfieldBarbara WintersJim WrightJaphet Zwana
1. CD-CAAR Newsletter, March, 1995, p.22. ibid. p.63. "Coalition Activities", CD-CAAR Chronology of Events, 19864. CD-CAAR Newsletter, March, 1995, p.35. ibid. p.46. ibid. p.47. "Coalition Activities", Coalition News Notes, 1986
- Acquisition information:
All items in this manuscript group were transferred to the University Libraries, M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, for microfilming in by Vera Michelson, former co-chair of CD-CAAR. Two of the series, a complete run of the newsletters (1983-1995) and the newsletter editor's files (1984-1994), were donated by Eileen Kawola, CD-CAAR newsletter editor in 1995.
The collection is organized into 10 topical file series.
- Processing information:
Processed in 1995 by Sara Rohfeld.
- Athletics and Sports
Apartheid -- South Africa.
Blacks -- Social conditions.
African Americans -- Segregation.
African Americans -- Social conditions.
African Americans -- Social conditions -- New York (State) -- Albany.
Neighborhood and Community Associations
Social Activists and Public Advocates
Albany, New York
African Americans and Civil Rights Organizations
- Capital District Coalition Against Apartheid. Albany Chapter.
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.