Anti-Apartheid Protest Attracts Big-Name Politicians, Celebrities
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Entertainment world celebrities joined prominent politicians and religious leaders in the capital to back the growing anti-apartheid movement and urge the government to get heavy handed with South Africa.
Singer Harry Belefonte accused the Reagan administration of being ″unwilling to lend its power″ to stop South Africa’s racial separation policies, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson said ″a large moral force″ is unifying in the nation to push for a change in those policies.
They were among thousands of demonstrators who marched Monday from the Lincoln Memorial to the State Department, calling on the administration to renounce its policy of ″contructive engagement,″ or quiet diplomacy, and take stronger action force change in South Africa.
Among the marchers were actors Paul Newman and Tony Randall, mayors Ed Koch of New York City, Marion Barry of Washington and Richard Hatcher of Gary, Ind., civil rights activist Coretta Scott King; NAACP Executive Director Benjamin Hooks; Walter Fauntroy, the District of Columbia’s congressional delegate; Judy Goldsmith, outgoing president of the National Organization for Women, and the Rev. Joseph Lowery, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
They carried 50 coffins symbolizing the South Africans killed in growing violence since the white-minority government imposed a state of emergency 23 days ago.
Speaking to the crowd that police estimated at 5,500, Koch said all countries should end relations with Pretoria.
″What we are seeing today in South Africa is akin to what we saw in 1933 in Nazi Germany. We turned a blind eye to Germany in 1933, and it cost thousands of lives. The U.S. should unilaterally end all diplomatic and economic relations with South Africa unless and until that regime ends apartheid and martial law against the South African people, and then ask the United Nations to do the same,″ Koch said.
″We should not wait for the death camps that occurred 10 years later in Nazi Germany. We should have acted in 1933 and we should act in 1985,″ Koch added.
″There is a large moral force in the community coming together,″ said Jackson, the Chicago-based civil rights leader who ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination last year. ″Every moral imperative used to withdraw the Third Reich from Germany in 1945 should be used to justify withdrawal of the Fourth Reich from South Africa in 1985.″
Barry urged a U.S. arms embargo against South Africa, and a naval blockade to enforce it, if necessary.
The Free South Africa Movement, which sponsored the event, called for a day of mourning and urged U.S. corporations to halt all business dealings with South Africa.
Mrs. King, widow of the slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., said the current rioting and violence in South Africa ″is small compared to the violence″ of the apartheid regime. There is violence in ″poverty and exploitation. There is violence of the human spirit and human dignity,″ she said.
″There is a broad-based movement in this country for an end to apartheid,″ said David Scott, a spokesman for the anti-apartheid group TransAfrica.
He said the anti-apartheid forces would mount increasing pressure in hopes of getting President Reagan to sign an economic sanctions bill if it clears Congress. It has been passed by the House and is scheduled to be taken up by the Senate next month.