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Obama among Occidental College students who pressed school to divest from South Africa

by Take Two®

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Barak Obama, US senator for Illinois, stands 20 August 2006, on Robben Island, about six kilometres from the city, in Table Bay. Obama was visiting the island prison museum, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for about 18 years, as part of a larger visit to the country. RODGER BOSCH/AFP/Getty Images

In the 1980s while Mandela was still a political prisoner and the struggle over Apartheid was at its height, a growing number of people here in the United States were also taking up the cause.

A divestment campaign that began in the 1970s on college campuses began to reach critical mass. At demonstrations, supporters demanded a boycott on financial companies with ties to South Africa.

Here in Southern California, at Occidental College, a young Barack Obama was one of those students who spoke out. The speech he made in 1981 to protest Oxy's investments in companies doing business South Africa is considered Obama's first ever political action. 


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