Ripple of Hope


During the course of doing research for the film and this important period in US-South African history, we have found various relevant documents that add details to issues raised in the film and provide a deeper understanding of the historical/political context within which the visit took place.

South African Itinerary, Robert F. Kennedy, June 5th - 8th, 1966
This is probably the last draft of the itinerary for the visit prior to departure. It includes details of the people with whom Senator Kennedy planned to meet. It does not list the meeting with banned NUSAS President, Ian Robertson, at his apartment in Cape Town on June 6th, or the visit with banned ANC President, Chief Albert Luthuli, at his house in Groutville, Natal, on the morning of June 8th. There was still uncertainty at the time the itinerary was drawn up whether Senator Kennedy would get to meet with Luthuli and they probably chose not to make public their plans to visit him.

Banning Order of Ian Robertson, 1966 NUSAS President, Under the Suppression of Communism Act, Cape Town, May 3rd, 1966
This is an example of legal documents served on someone under this Apartheid era legislation. It is a good example of the National Party's style of totalitarian rule.

Ian Robertson was the president of NUSAS, the National Union of South African Students, when he was banned by the government a month before Senator Kennedy's visit. Robertson was instrumental in inviting Senator Kennedy to be the keynote speaker at NUSAS's Day of Affirmation. Because he was banned at the time of the visit, he was not able to attend Senator Kennedy's speech at the University of Cape Town. Senator Kennedy visited him at his apartment on the way in from the airport.

Alan Paton- Praise Song
This praise song was written for Chief Albert Luthuli on the occasion of his travelling to Norway in 1961 to receive the 1960 Nobel Peace Prize.

Statement Issued Jointly By Chief Albert Luthuli and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Appeal for Action against Apartheid,” December 10th, 1962.
The publication of this statement by the banned President of the ANC and the major American Civil Rights leader, and the signing of it by prominent Americans, was probably the most important early sixties public statement on South Africa in the United States. It was the first public linking of the Civil Rights Movement and the Anti-Apartheid Movement in the United States.

Chief Albert Luthuli's Statement on the "Rivonia Trial," June 12th, 1964
This statement captures much of the feeling at a very dark moment in South African history. The Rivonia Trial was the final crushing of the ANC and other opposition. With their conviction in this trial, Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and other top ANC leaders were sent to Robben Island Prison, off the coast of Cape Town, to serve life imprisonments. Chief Luthuli, the President of the African National Congress, was himself banned and restricted to his house in Natal. The only "good news," was that the South African Government- under international pressure- did not hang the defendants.

Author's note: It is one of the tragic facts of South African history that the Nelson Mandela that the National Party decided to negotiate with in 1990 was not significantly different from the Nelson Mandela of 1960 whom they imprisoned on Robben Island. The deal that the National Party got in the early 1990's they could have gotten with Luthuli and Mandela in the 1960's. South Africa wasted 30 tragic years. Of course, when considering the American role in these 30 years, the effect of the Cold War has to be factored in.

Document on Dr. Martin Luther King and South Africa
The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., always saw the Civil Rights Movement in the United States in its broader context and stressed that the "the struggle for freedom forms one long front crossing oceans and peoples." He paid particular attention to the situation in South Africa. (See Dr. King's two speeches on South Africa in the Speeches section.)

Various 1960's United Nations Documents on South Africa
This extended document provides a variety of United Nations documents about South Africa. It is for those readers who want more background material on South Africa and the world's relationship with South Africa in the 1960’s. These documents focus on the first half of the 1960's prior to Senator Kennedy's visit. The selection includes resolutions, speeches and letters. There is an index at the beginning of the document.

United States State Department Documents on South Africa, September 1965 – July 1966.
These documents are from the State Department Archives. The prime focus is on the time period from when Senator Kennedy was invited to South Africa until just after the visit. Anyone wanting to go further afield should consult the State Department archives.

[Note in particular the reference to Senator Kennedy’s South African visit in: 620. Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson, Washington, June 22, 1966]

Perspective on Ideas and the Arts Chicago, May 1963
This rare interview of Chief Albert Luthuli by Studs Terkel was conducted in secret in the vicinity of Chief Luthuli’s house in Groutville where he was restricted by his banning order.

The New Republic, May 1964
This article was written under the shadow of the Rivonia Trial where it was still feared that Nelson Mandela and his colleagues would be hung.

[One shudders to think what the subsequent history of South Africa would have been like if this had occurred. Instead, they were given life sentences and imprisoned on Robben Island-off the coast of Cape Town. They were there when Senator Kennedy visited Cape Town in 1966. He discussed flying over Robben Island on his flight into Cape Town in the article he published in Look (see above).]

William Mintner & Sylvia Hill, Anti-apartheid solidarity in United States–South Africa relations: From the margins to the mainstream

John Daniel & Peter Vale, South Africa: Where Were We Looking in 1968?

United States House of Representatives Resolution (1901)
This resolution requested asylum for Boer families in the United States at the end of the Boer War (1899-1901). It was submitted by Congressman Joseph Fitzgerald, Senator Robert Kennedy's grandfather, to the United States House of Representatives.

[On at least two occasions, Senator Kennedy spoke of this resolution in public speeches in South Africa to try to show that he was not anti-Afrikaner. The first effort- on arrival at Jan Smuts Airport in front of a crowd of English speaking students- was not very well received. The second public mention of his grandfather's resolution, at the prominent Afrikaans university, Stellenbosch, was much better received.]