Before the new 1968 Jim Crow slavery policy of mass incarceration was oiled and in full operation after the Civil Rights Era this is what Black fathers, mothers and activists accomplished.
In 1970, my father founded the Polaroid Revolutionary Workers Movement (“PRWM”) and issued demands that either Polaroid divest from South Africa or it would face a domestic and international boycott. Polaroid refused to divest and so began my father’s efforts to force Polaroid out of South Africa.
In 1971, my father testified at the United Nations demanding it force Polaroid Corporation to stop selling its ID-2 technology system to the South Africa government which was critical to how the SA gov’t controlled black people under racism and Apartheid. Every black person was required under apartheid law to carry a passbook ID. If a person was stopped & didn’t produce a picture ID they could be killed by a white person. Does that sound familiar?
Understanding history will hopefully help all to comprehend why here in America I find it troubling that police are stopping and arresting citizens for failure to produce a picture ID; which is not a criminal offense in any territory. Not giving your name, dob, ssn and other ID on demand if police are investigating a crime is necessary but not producing a picture ID is not criminal.
My dad lost his job at Polaroid standing up to very powerful foes who wanted to control black people for profit and also were determined they would attempt to control my father’s speech. That was a bad idea. It is very difficult to control the speech of a person who is courageous and determined.
On October 27th, 1971 the PRWM called for a world-wide boycott of Polaroid. By demanding complete disengagement, the workers at Polaroid are acting in solidarity with calls by African liberation movements and the conclusions reached by countless United Nations committees who have studied South African racism.
Here my father is at the United Nations testifying in t-shirt because financial hardship by Polaroid terminating him was used in attempt to control his speech on matters of public concern.
I witnessed my dad’s determination and the struggle up close and personal to right a wrong against humanity. He prevailed by the late 1970’s when Polaroid and other fortune 500 companies divested from South Africa.
Here Boston University teaches a curriculum on the PRWM as does Harvard, MIT, MSU and other fine institutions of learning.
Harvard Divestment from SA
By Ken Williams
Thank You Ken with ❤️ Cynthia
Boston University apartheid studies class honoring my father and the PRWM
Click to access The-US-Responds-to-Apartheid.pdf
Michagan State University honoring the PRWM and boycott