The Freedom Charter was not adopted immediately by the ANC. The executives of the four organisations of the Congress Alliance met at the beginning of August 1955 and agreed to recommend the adoption of the document by each respective Congress. A ‘million signature’ campaign was conceived to popularise the Charter and 10 000 ‘Freedom Volunteers’ succeeded in collecting nearly 100 000 signatures for the Charter, most of them from the Transvaal.

The Freedom Charter was endorsed by the ANC at a special conference, which was also held to discuss the introduction of passes to women. The endorsement of the Freedom Charter by the ANC reflected the changing character of the movement’s leadership.

In contrast to the previous decade it was younger, less affluent and more likely to be drawn from a legal, trade union or non-professional background than the politicians of the 1940s.

UDF meeting, mid 1980's, probably Soweto. Photograph by Paul Weinberg © South Photographs

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