Mackie J. McLeod III, 57, a political activist, anti-apartheid advocate and journalist who covered Africa and African American affairs, died of complications from kidney failure Oct. 9 at Washington Hospital Center. A former resident of Washington, he had lived in Silver Spring since March.
In the 1980s, Mr. McLeod played a strategic role in the growth of the anti-apartheid movement in Washington and Boston. He also was among the first wave of African Americans to settle in South Africa as it was undergoing political change leading up to Nelson Mandela's election as president.
He once described moving to South Africa as feeling "like I was coming home."
"The idea of flying in the business-class section of an airplane back to the continent where your ancestors had been dragged away in the hull of a ship -- that's pretty amazing," he told The Washington Post in 1994.
While in South Africa in the early 1990s, he directed the Lotus Trust, the U.S. computer company's social responsibility program. He worked with black, African-run information technology projects and sent some of the county's best black computer instructors to Lotus's headquarters in Massachusetts for advanced training.
He introduced the world of computers to hundreds of young South Africans and helped develop Lotus's initiatives among small businesses and educational institutions in underserved regions.
Mr. McLeod once told a reporter that in that work -- applying development tools to the transmission of information technology skills -- he had found his calling.
He was born in Roxbury, Mass., and was the son of civil-rights activists. He attended San Francisco State College and received a master's degree in urban planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Community Fellows Program.
In his early twenties, Mr. McLeod left the United States for Africa with his wife, whom he met while they were producing the program "On Being Black" for WGBH in Boston. In Dakar, Senegal, in the early 1970s, he studied relief and development issues and volunteered with the United Nations Development Program as it aided the refugees of the Sahelian drought.
He returned to Boston in the late 1970s and worked as a broadcaster, concentrating on politics for several area media outlets and writing commentary on contemporary African politics for several publications.
He served as public relations director for the Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, and from 1989 to 1991 was media adviser with the Washington chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. He also was involved in a broad range of domestic issues, including the antiwar movement, civil liberties and black political representation.
In the 1980s, he served as the public relations director for Grassroots International, a Boston-based nonprofit that addressed famine in West Africa. In 1987, he traveled often to southern Africa on fact-finding and relief missions on behalf of the Mozambique Support Network, a U.S.-based group that he led.
Mr. McLeod, with his wife, moved in 1990 to Harare, Zimbabwe, where they managed programs for the American Friends Service Committee. After living in South Africa, he returned to the United States when his health began to decline in the late 1990s.
Survivors include his wife of 37 years, Zubaida Price McLeod of Silver Spring; a daughter, Zambia McLeod Davis of Silver Spring; two brothers; and a grandson.