Ronald Dellums (1935 - )
The Order of the Companions of O.R. Tambo in
Profile of Ronald Dellums
Ronald Dellums was born in Oakland in the USA on 24 November 1935 to African-American parents and grew up in a period where there was no regard for African-Americans. It was during the time when he served in the US Marine Corps that Dellums felt the sting of racism. He served between 1954 and 1956 but was never recommended to attend Officer Candidates School.
Dellums refused to have his spirit broken, instead turning to acquiring knowledge. In 1958, he received his Associate of Arts degree from Oakland City College and his Bachelor of Arts from the San Fransisco State University in 1960. He went on to receive his Masters in Social Work from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1962.
He then embarked on a mission to impart knowledge through teaching at the San Fransisco State University and the University of California, Berkeley. Dellums became a psychiatric social worker and political activist in the African-American community in the 1960s at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. He was a prominent member of the Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate Greek letterfraternity for African-Americans.
In 1967, Dellums was elected to the Berkeley City Council on which he served for three years. In 1970, he was elected to the US House of Representatives defeating Jeffery Cohelan, a white liberal who had not opposed the Vietnam War early enough to please Democratic activists. For 27 years without interruption afterwards, Dellums won the general elections.
Having experienced the unjust laws of racism in the USA, Dellums extended his campaign to South Africa. In 1972, Dellums began his campaign to end the oppressive, brutal, racially segregated apartheid policies of South Africa. Fourteen years later, the US House of Representatives passed Dellums’ anti- apartheid legislation.
Dellums called for a trade embargo against South Africa and immediate divestment by American corporations. The bill was finally agreed to by both houses of congress. The Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986 was significantly watered down from Dellums’ original language and had broad bipartisan support. It called for sanctions and the release of all political prisoners.
Ronald Verni Dellums was one of the earliest advocates of federal sanctions against the apartheid regime in South Africa. He first introduced a bill for sanctions in 1971 and fighting for it for years until it was eventually passed in 1986. Dellums retired from Congressin 1999 to focus on his personal life. He continues to be an activist in the peace movement.