To: The Chairman Of The United Nations Special Committee Against Apartheid
We should like to call your attention and that of the Special Committee on the Policies of Apartheid to a campaign, initiated by the American Committee on Africa and the University Christian Movement, conceived as a protest by Americans against the financial support to apartheid given by two of the largest New York banks – Chase Manhattan and First National City.
Here in the United States some Americans, while officially condemning apartheid, support it by investment and business dealings with companies or banks which help to undergird the South African economy. We feel strongly that it is time for Americans to disengage themselves economically from the injustices of the apartheid regime.
We also feel that something tangible must be done, to express our protest, as Americans, against this United States involvement in apartheid.
To this end a Committee of Conscience against Apartheid has been formed with Mr. A. Philip Randolph, dean of American labour leaders, as Chairman, and numbering to date 115 religious, labour, civil rights and student leaders, as well as outstanding individuals in many walks of life.
The purpose of the formation of the Committee of Conscience Against Apartheid is to mobilise backing for the campaign in New York City and to urge individuals and organisations to examine their consciences – and their banking arrangements – in the light of the significant support to racism in South Africa being given by Chase Manhattan and First National City Banks.
The objects of the campaign are, as stated above:
1.A protest against the direct support given by these banks to apartheid; this protest to be manifested either by the withdrawal of accounts – on or before 9 December – from the banks specified, or, as in the case of non-depositors, by a letter to these banks protesting their involvement in South Africa.
2.A practical demonstration to the United States Government (particularly the Departments of Commerce and State) of the growing concern of many Americans about United States economic and financial involvement in South Africa and their urgent wish for American economic disengagement in South America.
Some very large corporations, church groups etc., have formed special committees to seriously examine the morality of their banking practices with a view to possible withdrawal of million or multi-million dollar accounts. These discussions may not bear practical fruit by 9 December, but we feel it is important that the issue has been raised and is now being debated, as a result of our campaign.
Pledges of withdrawal totalling tens of thousands of dollars have already been received, at this early date, and thousands of letters have gone out to churches, synagogues, trade unions and individuals asking for their protest and withdrawal.
Demonstrations are to be held at various branches of the banks in Greater New York and meetings for students and for community leaders are planned. High point of the campaign will be 9 December, the day before Human Rights Day, which has been selected for simultaneous withdrawal of accounts at branches throughout the city, and for mass demonstrations at two main branches of Chase Manhattan and First National City Banks.
(Signed) Mary-Louise Hooper