News & events


Fighting for freedom – The Charter 65 years on

25 June 2020
12:30 - 14:00

Date: 25 June 2020  

Time: 12h30 –14h00

Livestream via Zoom

Please find the links to the Freedom Charter seminar uploads on the HSRC YouTube channel.

Prof Crain welcome:

Dr Ismail Vadi:

Dr Joleen Steyn Kotze:

Ms Baleka Mbete:

Prof Narnia Bohler Muller:

Prof William Gumede:


On 25 and 26 June 1955, 3 000 people from all walks of life – delegates representing the African National Congress (ANC), the Congress of Democrats, the South African Coloured People’s Congress, the South African Indian Congress and the South African Congress of Trade Unions – gathered in Kliptown, Johannesburg at the Congress of the People to formally adopt the Freedom Charter.

The Congress of the People was the culmination of a campaign in which the ANC and its allies had invited all in South Africa to record their demands for the kind of society they envisaged after the demise of apartheid. These demands, collected by 50,000 volunteers from across the country over several months, were crystallised in a statement of core principles for incorporation into a common document. The essence of the Freedom Charter is captured in its opening words: “We, the People of South Africa, declare for all our country and the world to know: that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people.”

This seminar, which commemorates the 65th anniversary of the Congress of the People, will include a discussion of the history of the Freedom Charter and engage key questions such as its relevance today and its impact on post-apartheid society.

Prof. Crain Soudien, HSRC

Ms Baleka Mbete Chairperson of the Archives Sub-Committee of the NEC of the ANC
Key note address on the Freedom Charter

Prof. William Gumede, Director of the Democracy Works Foundation
How do we build a post covid-19 economy based on the Freedom Charter

Dr Ismail Vadi, Ahmed Kathrada Foundation
The analysis of the campaign for the Congress of the People and the Freedom Charter

Dr Joleen Steyn Kotze, HSRC
Deconstructing freedom:  Reflections on the Freedom Charter and the meaning of freedom

For further information contact: Arlene Grossberg | E:

The HSRC seminar series is funded by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI). The views and opinions expressed therein as well as findings and statements of the seminar series do not necessarily represent the views of the DSI. Please also note that this seminar may be recorded and published on the HSRC podcast channel.

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Zoom link: