Joint statement by Chief Albert J. Lutuli and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1962

In 1957, an unprecedented Declaration of Conscience was issued by more than 100 leaders from every continent. That Declaration was an appeal to South Africa to bring its policies into line with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations.

The Declaration was a good start in mobilising world sentiment to back those in South Africa who acted for equality. The non-whites took heart in learning that they were not alone. And many white supremacists learned for the first time how isolated they were.

Measures of Desperation

Subsequent to the Declaration, the South African Government took the following measures:

  • BANNED the African National Congress and the Pan Africanist Congress, the principal protest organisations, and jailed their leaders;
  • COERCED the press into strict pro-government censorship and made it almost impossible for new anti-apartheid publications to exist;
  • ESTABLISHED an arms industry, more than tripled the military budget, distributed small arms to the white population, enlarged the army, created an extensive white civilian militia;
  • ACTIVATED total physical race separation by establishing the first Bantustan in the Transkei - with the aid of emergency police regulations;
  • LEGALLY DEFINED protest against apartheid as an act of "sabotage" - and offence ultimately punishable by death;
  • PERPETUATED its control through terrorism and violence:
  • Human Rights Day (December 10), 1959 - 12 South West Africans killed at Windhoek and 40 wounded as they fled police
  • March 21, 1960 - 72 Africans killed and 186 wounded at Sharpeville by police
  • Before and during the two-year "emergency" in the Transkei - 15 Africans killed by police, thousands arrested and imprisoned without trial.

The Choice

The deepening tensions can lead to two alternatives:


Intensified persecution may lead to violence and armed rebellion once it is clear that peaceful adjustments are no longer possible. As the persecution has been inflicted by one racial group upon all other racial groups, large-scale violence would take the form of a racial war.

This "solution" may be workable. But mass racial extermination will destroy the potential for interracial unity in South Africa and elsewhere.

Therefore, we ask for your action to make the following possible.

Solution 2

"Nothing which we have suffered at the hands of the government has turned us from our chosen path of disciplined resistance," said Chief Albert J. Lutuli at Oslo. So there exists another alternative - and the only solution which represents sanity - transition to a society based upon equality for all without regard to colour.

Any solution founded on justice is unattainable until the Government of South Africa is forced by pressures, both internal and external, to come to terms with the demands of the non-white majority.

The apartheid republic is a reality today only because the peoples and governments of the world have been unwilling to place her in quarantine.

Translate public opinion into public action

We, therefore, ask all men of goodwill to take action against apartheid in the following manner:

  • Hold meetings and demonstrations on December 10, Human Rights Day:
  • Urge your church, union, lodge, or club to observe this day as one of protest;
  • Urge your Government to support economic sanctions;
  • Write to your mission to the United Nations urging adoption of a resolution calling for international isolation of South Africa;
  • Don't buy South Africa's products;
  • Don't trade or invest in South Africa;
  • Translate public opinion into public action by explaining facts to all peoples, to groups to which you belong, and to countries of which you are citizens until AN EFFECTIVE INTERNATIONAL QUARANTINE OF APARTHEID IS ESTABLISHED.

This joint statement, initiated by Chief Lutuli and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was signed by many prominent Americans and promoted the public campaign for sanctions against South Africa.

Lutuli, A.J. & Luther King, M. Jnr. (1962). “Appeal for Action Against Apartheid” ( (Accessed 3 March 2004)