Skip to main content

Ed Ferguson Oregon anti-apartheid collection

Identifier: MSS 442 large

Scope and Contents

The Ed Ferguson Oregon Anti-Apartheid collection contains material on the anti-apartheid struggle in the state of Oregon from 1975 through 1985. These struggles took place because of existing links between Oregon and Apartheid South Africa.

It is organized according to three activities designed to break those links. The first activity was to get Oregon State University to honor the international sports boycott of Apartheid South Africa. The second was to pressure the state legislature to pass a divestment bill. The third was to shut down the South African Consulate in Portland.

While all three movements enlisted statewide support, each had its flashpoint. For the international sports boycott it was Oregon State University (OSU) in Corvallis where the wrestling coach, Dale Thomas, had been violating the international ban on sports contact with South Africa since the early 1970s by taking local wrestlers there and bringing South African Defense Force wrestlers to Oregon. The campaign to stop these exchanges began seriously in 1980 through the initiative of the African Students’ Association at OSU.

It was activist students in the law faculty at the University of Oregon in Eugene, 40 miles east of OSU, who spearheaded the divestment campaign in the state from 1978 to 1987. James Campbell, one of the most dedicated activists, has provided a legal history of this struggle.

The third activity was inspired by the Free South Africa Movement sit-ins in late 1984 at the South African embassy in Washington DC. Similar sit-ins followed nationwide at South African Consulates. That at the Consulate in Portland, Oregon, was organized by a coalition of local groups coordinated by the American Friends Service Committee and the Black United Front in December 1984 and January 1985.

All three movements achieved their goals. The exchanges between Oregon and South African wrestlers ceased in late 1982 and the South African Consul resigned and closed the Consulate in early 1985. Two years later a divestment bill was passed by the state legislature.

These files were prepared by Ed Ferguson who arrived at Oregon State University in 1979 to teach African history and, soon after, became advisor to the campus African Students’ Association. Ties were then established with anti-apartheid activists in Eugene, Salem and Portland to create a statewide movement in support of a democratic and free South Africa. (Description by Ed Ferguson, 2012)


  • Creation: 1957 - 2009
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1975 - 1985


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Access

The material is stored offsite in Remote Storage. Please contact Special Collections 3 working days in advance if you wish to use it.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright is retained by the authors of the items in this collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law. For photocopy and duplication requests, please contact the Stephen O. Murray and Keelung Hong Special Collections, Michigan State University Libraries.

Biographical / Historical

Ed Ferguson was a professor of African history and advisor for the African Students' Organization at Oregon State University from 1979-1991.


.8 Linear Feet (2 boxes)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was donated by Ed Ferguson in 2012.


This collection is part of the African Activist Archive

Variant Title

Oregon Anti-Apartheid Files (Ed Ferguson collection)

Processing Information

Richard Knight of the African Activist Project prepared the inventory in 2012.

Finding Aid for the Ed Ferguson Oregon Anti-Apartheid collection
4 Published And Cataloged
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Stephen O. Murray and Keelung Hong Special Collections Repository

MSU Libraries
366 W. Circle Drive
East Lansing MI 48823 USA