More than 400 students from area universities and other schools commemorated the 25th anniversary of the Greensboro, N.C., civil-rights sit-in yesterday by joining antiapartheid demonstrators outside the South African Embassy.
The rain -- drenched afternoon protest resulted in 133 arrests, including 13 juveniles, the largest number since the 11-week-old embassy demonstrations began Nov. 21, police said. All were charged with demonstrating within 500 feet of the embassy, a misdemeanor.
"No pun intended," said Paul Strauss, one of the student speakers at the protest, "but the idea that students of the '80s are apathetic doesn't really hold water."
The Greensboro protest, where students attempted to integrate a lunch counter, is considered the start of the sit-in movement. Students yesterday said they were trying to build on that legacy by showing support for black South African students still fighting racial segregation.
"Since the 1976 shooting of hundreds of black South African students in Soweto, South Africa, students in this country have forced more than 40 U.S. colleges and universities to sell a total of $175 million in corporate investments linked to South Africa," said a statement by the New York-based American Committee on Africa.
The group called yesterday's embassy protest part of a growing student movement building to a National Protest Day for Divestment on April 4 to be held on campuses across the country.
Randall Robinson, coordinator of the Free South Africa movement and a veteran of civil rights sit-ins of the '60s, praised the students for their participation. "The torch is passed," he said. "The future for people who seek freedom in the world is in good hands."
Other demonstrators included the executive council of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists; the president of the Michigan State Senate, Jack Thorn; the National Black Police Association; the Organization of Black Firefighters; and Washington area members of the Caribbean community.
Yesterday's arrests bring the total number of arrests at the embassy to 787. Nationwide, there have been 1,157 arrests of antiapartheid demonstrators.