Interview with Eleanor Holmes Norton
QUESTION 11
JACKIE SHEARER:

November 21, 1984, a demonstration took place at the South African embassy in Washington, D.C. I'd like you to describe why this demonstration was so significant, or even necessary, and why you felt it was important for you personally to participate in it.

ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON:

Randall Robinson, the head of TransAfrica--

ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON:

Randall Robinson, the head of TransAfrica, came to see me and, and, told me what the plot was. Four of us were to go, if I was willing, to the South African embassy where we would ask about conditions in South Africa, and I was to come out and inform the press that the other three did not to come out until trade unionists, being held incommunicado, were released. We were driven to, um, this tactic because the relatives of these trade unionists, their lawyers, could not get to see them, and we feared the fate of Steve Biko, the Black student who was murdered in custody. It seemed to me just the right thing to do. Struggle did not be--struggle does not begin or end at the borders of the United States. To be sure, I have some I--some, some level of identification with people who are oppressed in South Africa. There is a kind of logical extension of the Civil Rights struggle. Remember, Martin Luther King didn't get the Nobel Peace Prize for leading an indigenous movement in the United States. He got the Nobel Peace Prize because of what his work showed the world about equality and freedom. And those of us who live after him, it seems to me, have to be responsive to similar problems throughout the world, and thus, ah, to move, ah, on the South African embassy to raise consciousness in this country on brutal oppression, based on color, it seemed to me to be just the next step in the American Civil Rights struggle.

JACKIE SHEARER:

Excellent. Cut. I know you'll be happy with that, and I heard that you want to capture both questions in your response.

ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON:

Oh, you do?