"Action without vision is only passing time, vision without action is merely day dreaming, but vision with action can change the world."
- Nelson Mandela
TransAfrica is the oldest African American foreign policy organization in the United States. TransAfrica educates the public to deepen support for the understanding of issues and cultures of Africans in Africa and the Diaspora. With a focus on U.S. economic and humanitarian aid to Africans and African descendants throughout the world, TransAfrica brings a critical perspective to foreign policy decision makers and works for more just policies for the African World.
TransAfrica seeks to create a well-informed U.S. audience that makes its voice heard in the foreign policy arena to ensure that humanitarian and economic policies support people’s human rights while strengthening their self-determination and improving their quality of life. Foreign policy that aligns with the values of TransAfrica’s members will support sustainable development that renews and protects the environment, reduces dependence on continued aid, and dismantles systems of economic and social apartheid.
TransAfrica envisions Americans gaining a dynamic understanding of the state of the African World beyond the images and stereotypes emphasized in mainstream media. People will come to know the accomplishments, struggles, art, music, culture and remarkable individuals in the African World, broadening their perspective of the richness of Africa and African descendent communities, especially in Latin America and the Caribbean.
TransAfrica received its mandate during the Black Leadership Conference convened by the Congressional Black Caucus in 1976. The Conference concluded that the conspicuous absence of African Americans in high-level international affairs positions, and the general neglect of African and Caribbean priorities, required a foreign policy advocacy organization.
TransAfrica was incorporated as a nonprofit organization on July 1, 1977. TransAfrica is best known for its leadership in the struggle against the unjust apartheid regime in South Africa. TransAfrica’s activism including legislative campaigns and strategic media work were the heart of the anti-apartheid fight in the U.S. during the 1980's.
Since the inception of TransAfrica in 1977, the institution has had a special emphasis of working in solidarity with civic society organizations in Southern Africa—much of that work was with key labor union allies such as the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, African Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Uganda Medical Workers Union, and the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations. In particular, the institution worked closely with the liberation organizations in Zimbabwe as they fought the white-minority Ian Smith regime of then-Rhodesia; and the liberation movement in Namibia as it fought apartheid South Africa’s illegal occupation of Namibia. In the 1980's, TransAfrica continuously galvanized the public’s attention to apartheid South Africa's terror campaign policy in southern Africa, specifically in Angola, Mozambique and Namibia.
TransAfrica also worked to expose the Reagan administration and Haitian dictator Jean Claude Duvalier agreement of 1981 which stated any Haitian refugees captured at sea by the U.S. Coast Guard would be sent back to Haiti. Throughout the 1980's the institution partnered with human rights organizations amplifying the lack of democracy in Haiti. In 1991 when the first democratically elected president of Haiti was overthrown by the military, TransAfrica pushed for the restoration of democracy and a just policy for Haitian refugees fleeing the military regime of General Raoul Cedras.
In Nigeria after the elections for civilian government were conducted on June 12, 1993, the military annulled the results and clamped down on pro-democracy activists including the 1994 arrest of Moshood Abiola—the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 elections. TransAfrica and U.S. labor unions supported the pro-democracy movement (which included trade unions) in Nigeria with various actions: from letter writing campaigns to demonstrations until civilian rule in 1999.
In the 21st Century, TransAfrica continues to foster a closer alliance among African Americans and Africans in the continent of Africa and the African Diaspora, through activities that promote political awareness and involvement in foreign affairs: activities such as fact-finding missions to Angola, Colombia, Cuba, Dominica, Haiti, Jamaica, Lesotho, St. Lucia, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe. The organization has facilitated meetings between American policymakers and foreign leaders including Nelson Mandela, Fidel Castro of Cuba, the late Michael Manley of Jamaica, Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti, the late Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, and the late Maurice Bishop, prime minister of Grenada.