Sheffielders have never been shy to stand up for what they believe in through lively protest.
This Thursday one of the city’s most high profile and fascinating campaigns will be recalled with a film screening that commemorates the 25th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison and Sheffield Anti-Apartheid’s contribution.
It was a movement that inspired thousands of residents, plus churches, trade unions and the council to unite.
“It was probably one of the most active anti-apartheid movements in the country, maybe Europe”, said Richard Caborn, the second chairman of Sheffield’s movement and also an organiser of the two concerts that form the backbone theme of the One Humanity film.
The campaign was launched in 1978 by Paul Blomfield. Sheffield Council was one of many local authorities to join action against the wishes of the then Government.
Some of the biggest events included a march of 10,000 people from The Wicker, and protests outside Cliff Richard’s concert at Bramall Lane in 1985 as the singer was on a UN blacklist of performers for refusing to boycott apartheid-era South Africa.
He agreed to meet Mr Blomfield and then Bishop of Sheffield David Lunn after.
“He wouldn’t budge at all”, said Mr Blomfield.”
Less high profile events, such as protests outside Barclays branches in the city, still had an impact.
Mr Blomfield added: “For years we stood outside Barclays in the rain with soggy leaflets and people said we were bonkers because it wouldn’t make a difference, but we went to shareholders’ meetings and urged people to remove their accounts. Eventually Barclays decided to pull out of South Africa.”
When Mandela was freed, he met some Sheffielders at a conference of nine councils in Glasgow.
Former Coun Mike Pye, there as the chair of the national committee of councils against anti-apartheid, said: “Halfway through the day his staff wanted him to rest but he said ‘No, I want to meet these people.’ He was just fantastic.”
One Humanity charts the fall of apartheid through two concerts - one for Mandela’s 70th birthday and another after he was released. It will be shown at The Showroom, Paternoster Row, from 5.30pm this Thursday. Organisers hope those involved with the movement will attend as a reunion. There is also an exhibition. To book call 0114 2757727.