Apartheid Activist, Political Prisoner to Speak at St. Lawrence

Dennis Goldberg, a South African activist who rallied against apartheid in the 1950s and 1960s and who spent more than 20 years in prison with the late Nelson Mandela, will address the St. Lawrence University campus beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 15, in Bloomer Auditorium, Brown Hall 122.

Goldberg will also participate in a panel discussion organized by the African Student Union from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on Monday, April 14, in Dean-Eaton Formal Lounge.

Goldberg was born in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1933. He joined the Modern Youth Society in 1953, and in 1954 he became a member of the Congress of Democrats, a political organization that closely identified with the African National Congress (ANC) and advocated for racial equality and universal suffrage. Goldberg was detained for four months in 1960 under the guise of a state of emergency but later joined the Western Cape Regional Command of UmKhonto we Sizwe and advanced into the National High Command.

On July 11, 1963, Goldberg was arrested at the Liliesleaf Farm and was detained for 90 days. In October 1963, he was charged during the historic Rivonia Trial along with Mandela and eight others. Most of the accused, including Goldberg and Mandela, were sentenced to four terms of life imprisonment on June 12, 1964.

On Feb 28, 1985, Goldberg was released from prison after 22 years, while the others were released over the next 5 years. Mandela was the last to regain his freedom on February 9, 1990. Following his release, Goldberg became the ANC representative in London and served as spokesperson and publicist for the ANC at a UN special committee on apartheid from 1985 to1994, the period when apartheid in South Africa was coming to an end.

Goldberg completed his autobiography, The Mission: A Life for Freedom in South Africa, in 2010.

Goldberg’s visit is made possible by the support of the Office of President William L. Fox ’75, the Office of Academic Affairs, the Center for International and Intercultural Studies, the Department of Global Studies and the African Studies program.

For more information, contact the African Studies Program at 315-229-5246.