Congress of the People - 1955

The Congress Alliance came together in the 1950s to organise the Congress of the People - a conference of all the people of South Africa - which presented their demands for the kind of South Africa they wanted.

The demands called for the people to govern and for the land to be shared by those who work it. They called for houses, work, security and for free and equal education. These demands were drawn together in the Freedom Charter which was adopted at the Congress of the People at Kliptown on 26 June 1955.

The government claimed that the Freedom Charter was a communist document. Communism had been banned in 1950, so they arrested ANC and Congress leaders and brought them to trial in the famous Treason Trial. They also tried to prove that the ANC and its allies had a policy of violence and planned to overthrown the state.

Date Title
01 Feb 1955 Call to the Congress of the People
Leaflet issued by the National Action Council of the Congress of the People, 1955
29 May 1955 What Women Demand
Compiled in Preparation for the Congress of the People, 1955
25 Jun 1955 Message to the Congress of the People
June 1955
26 Jun 1955 The Freedom Charter
Adopted at the Congress of the People, Kliptown, on 26 June 1955
01 Jun 1956 Freedom in our Lifetime
Article on the Freedom Charter by Nelson Mandela in Liberation, the newspaper of the Congress Movement, June 1956
17 Nov 1957 Does the Freedom Charter Mean Socialism?
Article in New Age, 17 November 1957
01 Jul 1978 Mandela and our Revolution
Extracts from an article in Sechaba, Third Quarter, 1978
01 Jun 1980 The Freedom Charter - A Beacon to the People of South Africa
By Alfred Nzo Secretary General of the African National Congress, first published in the African Communist, Second Quarter, 1980
01 Mar 1985 June 26 - South Africa Freedom Day
From a Sechaba Commemorative Publication on the 30th Anniversary of the Freedom Charter, London 1985


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