Essay

CONTINENTS APART
Black Liberation in South Africa
and the United States

By George M. Fredrickson



T he victory of Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress in the 1994 elections was the culmination of a remarkable series of events, beginning with Mandela’s release from prison in 1990, that has brought an end to legalized white domination in South Africa. After this enormous breakthrough, what useful comparisons can be made between the current situation and future prospects of blacks in the two societies?

George 
Fredrickson George M. Fredrickson,
professor of history



One possible assessment would celebrate the victory over apartheid in the 1990s as roughly equivalent to the triumph of the American civil rights movement over legalized segregation and de facto disfranchisement 30 years earlier, the operative assumption being that the American precedent was similarly successful. The result in both cases, according to this optimistic evaluation, was an end to official racism and the removal of the principal barriers to the achievement of a color-blind democratic society. From this vantage point, the essential struggles are over, and white racism is, if not quite dead, at least deprived of most of its power.

Continents Apart (Plain text)

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MARCH/APRIL 1996

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