Freedom Charter of South Africa

(1955)

The Freedom Charter is the key document in the struggle against apartheid in the Republic of South Africa. Drafted by a small committee, on the basis of a vast number of submissions, and adopted at the Congress of the People, held at Kliptown outside Johannesburg on June 25–26, 1955, the Freedom Charter acquired enormous symbolic importance as a visionary statement setting out what a future democratic South Africa—not centered on distinctions of race—should look like. The document became especially significant in the 1980s, when those whose philosophy was based on the charter, known as “charterists,” dominated the antiapartheid resistance in the country. The Freedom Charter embodied the ideals for which the liberation struggle was being fought. After apartheid had come to an end, the new constitution of 1996 was to some extent based on ideas in the Freedom Charter, but many in the struggle thought that the new South Africa did not live up to the aspirations of the charter....