Amanda Kemp

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Amanda Kemp

Amanda Kemp is Chief Creative Officer/Founder at Dr. Amanda Kemp. Former Founder and Former Artistic Director at Theatre for Transformation. Lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Lancaster Stands Up Leadership Team

Lancaster Stands Up: the handful of folks who called for the initial emergency community meeting November 2016 has since then developed into a multiracial and multigenerational 11-person coordinating team, which includes Eliza Booth, Rafael Diaz, Amber Farward, Evan Gentry, Michelle Hines, Daniel Levin, Claudia Paz, Jonathan Smucker, Susan Wenger, Ismail Yoder Salim, and Melanie Yoder Salim (previous members who served: Amanda Kemp, Nick Martin, Becca Rast, Nelly Torres).

Since May, our Leadership Team has been preparing our next steps—how to move from protest to political power. We have been polling our base and talking with volunteers to figure out how to move this important work forward. We have been developing a clearer and more sustainable structure to allow LSU members to contribute their time, energy, passions, and gifts for the work ahead.[1]


Lancaster Stands Up November 10, 2017 ·


Rafael Diaz, Michael Jamanis, Nelly Torres and Amanda Kemp.


(A.B. 1988), active in Stanford Out of South Africa and the Rainbow Agenda as a student.

During her first year at Stanford, Amanda Kemp was struck by something then-President Donald Kennedy said during a speech to the freshman class: "Question authority."

That advice was among the things that inspired her to join with hundreds of other students in sit-ins outside of Kennedy's office in the spring of 1985, as part of a campaign to pressure the university to divest itself of stock in companies doing business with the apartheid regime in South Africa, Kemp said on Saturday afternoon. She appeared with Kennedy as part of a panel that discussed the legacy of the anti-apartheid movement on the Stanford campus and elsewhere.

The discussion was part of "Celebrating South African Freedom: A Symposium on the International Campaign to End Apartheid," organized by the Aurora Forum, January 2006. Along with Kemp, a founding member of the Stanford Students Out of South Africa and now a visiting professor of American studies at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Penn., other alumni panelists included lawyer Steven Phillips, a student activist and SOSA and Black Student Union leader at the time of the 1985 sit-ins, who now works as a political organizer, and Jory Steele, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California in San Francisco. After her graduation from Stanford in 1993, Steele traveled to South Africa on a Fulbright scholarship and later worked for political organizations there.

Also taking part in Saturday's panel was South African activist and lawyer Albie Sachs, a longtime member of the African National Congress who lost an arm and the sight in one eye in 1988 in a car bomb attack by South African agents. Sachs, appointed in 1994 to the South African Constitutional Court by Nelson Mandela, was the author of a case decided in December that declared a constitutional right to same-sex marriage in South Africa.

The symposium also included the premiere of a segment of the film series Have You Heard from Johannesburg?, produced by Connie Field of Clarity Films. The segment documented the growth of the anti-apartheid movement in the United States in Washington, D.C., and on campuses, including Stanford, against the backdrop of violence in South Africa. After a projector failed in Kresge Auditorium during the last minutes of the 90-minute film, Field spoke with the audience about making and funding the film series, which is still in production.

'A tiny acorn grew into a huge tree'The campus movement in support of the Free South Africa campaign was the largest student movement in Stanford's history, involving hundreds of students over a period of years, panelists said. The international anti-apartheid movement is notable for the fact that it mobilized people in every major country in the world to act, said Clayborne Carson, director of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute.

"I saw a tiny little acorn grow into a huge tree," said Sachs, who was arrested and imprisoned for his political activities in South Africa before going into exile in the 1960s. In exile, Sachs worked internationally to mobilize resistance to the South African government. In the early years, "the anti-apartheid movement was just another issue," he said. "But, eventually it became a clear moral question that caused all sorts of people to stand up and ask themselves, 'What does it mean to be a human being?'"

For Phillips, who after leaving Stanford served on the San Francisco Board of Education as the youngest person elected to office in that city, a visit to the Stanford campus by Bishop Desmond Tutu showed him the power of what he called "morality plus organization."

From Tutu, who was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his role in the liberation struggle in South Africa, Phillips saw "the explosive power of making a stand on social justice," he said. "Rooting yourself in the struggle of disenfranchised people working for justice is a force unto itself."

Some panelists said the sense of the interrelationship of all humanity—encapsulated in the South African expression ubuntu—was among the chief lessons to be learned from the anti-apartheid struggle. From "Question authority" she's moved to "Question individuality," Kemp said. "What I think is important is interconnectedness." Kemp said that, as a student activist, she was supported and nurtured by the generation who engaged in the civil rights struggles in the 1960s and regaled her with stories of their transformative experiences. "They taught me to think critically and engage," she said.

After the symposium, junior Mark Liu asked Kemp for her advice in strengthening current student organizing efforts. First, she would see about getting Liu an invitation to dinner with herself and other panelists, Kemp said. "Don't get discouraged," Kemp added. "Nurture yourself. Bring in people who can sustain you."[2]

Unity interview

In May 1985 the League of Revolutionary Struggle newspaper Unity published a supplement on the university South African divestment movement.

They profiled the activities of several campus groups involved in the campaign.

Stanford University activists interviewed were all members of Stanford Out of South Africa (SOSA).;

Origins of Peoples Platform

Letter to the Stanford Daily, Volume 189, Issue 39, 10 April 1986;

As members of the Third World/Progressive Alliance, we would like to protest the handling of this year's election by Jim McGrath, the elections hearing commissioner. We spent weeks developing the Peoples Platform, a document intended to build an atmosphere of respect for all peoples here at Stanford, in our community and throughout the world. Because we want the 1986-87 ASSU to be responsive to our needs, we have been especially careful not to disqualify the candidates for ASSU Senate who are running to uphold the principles of the Peoples Platform. Since the end of last quarter, we have continuously met with the members of the ASSU Elections Committee to stay within the bylaws of the elections handbook for our campaign to promote The Peoples Platform, and those candidates who have stated their support for the platform.
Jim McGrath has made it especially difficult for these candidates to campaign by overturning his publicity decisions after they accommodated them. McGrath has been making arbitrary interpretations of the bylaws specifically against these candidates. McGrath has treated the candidates who endorse our platform as a slate regardless of the fact that they have constantly insisted that they are running as individuals. For example, he has forced these candidates to check that none of their fliers "appear" (to him) similar in design. He has also ridiculously stated that the candidates cannot share certain words (which he has defined as "buzz" words), phrases, logos or even the same color flier, despite the fact that they all do agree with principles of the platform. Would McGrath ask that congressional candidates not run under the principles of the U.S. Constitution? We do feel that the just bylaws to any election are necessary and ensure a fair campaign. However, we do object to the fact that McGrath is forcing the candidates to waste time emphasizing differences rather than allowing them to express their own chosen principles for their own campaigns.

Lisa Neeley - Stanford American Indian Organization, Ed Gilliland - Stanford Central American Action Network, Jinny Shinsato - Asian American Student Association, Michael J. Schmitz- Stanford Out of South Africa, Derek Miyahara - Asian American Student Association, Amanda Kemp - Black Student Union, Gina Hernandez - MEChA, Elsa Tsutaoka- Third World Women's Caucus.

On the Black Student Union

On April 5, 1968, Stanford's black students ignited a fire that would burn relentlessly through two decades of shifting public sentiment. Following the shocking assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., the newly established Black Student Union held a rally in White Plaza. As then-BSU co-chair Kenny Washington spoke, 40 black students banded together on stage and set fire to an American flag. Washington explained to the racially mixed crowd, "This burning flag may mean a lot to you, but it doesn't mean much to us. The fact that we are Americans is only incidental to us. The burning flag is incidental to us. We are primarily human beings." Nearly 20 years after Martin Luther King's death, the fire burns strong for Stanford's BSU. Through times of civil unrest, legal conservatism and widespread apathy, the BSU has maintained its boldness and its dream. "We are here to continue the unfinished business of the 19605," said Steve Phillips, 1984-86 BSU chair. "We stand on that history, we learn from it, and we're inspired by it." Amanda Kemp, last year's BSU chair, said that unlike many similar institutions in the country, Stanford's BSU has "an uninterrupted history of 20 years of struggle" against the status quo.

The BSU first introduced itself to the Stanford community in October 1967. Ted Spearman, senior press representative for the group, explained in an Oct. 19 Daily article that the BSU planned to focus its attention on countering apathy. "Stanford is just as hostile to black people as the rest of the country, perhaps more hostile because of its apathy. Apathy is the worst form of hostility," he said. Six months later, student behavior in response to King's death illustrated the extent of such apathy. Although many students mourned King, others expressed indifference. An April 5, 1968, Daily article reported: "One fellow at Kappa Alpha, where drinks and music created a lively atmosphere, said, 'I'm not concerned at all. I'm never upset at anything, and why should I worry? I live in Montana.' " The BSU, however, answered apathy with activism. Just hours after the flag-burning rally at White Plaza, 70 members of the BSU stormed onto the stage of Memorial Auditorium and surrounded then-Provost Richard Lyman, demanding 10 points of specific reform on minority admissions and employment at Stanford and funding for the BSU.

'It isn't just a fight for black people. The BSU is a catalyst for justice overall on this campus.' — Amanda Kemp

The BSU "never made an explicit threat of direct action but it was clear that ... they were in a position to create a lot of upheaval," said Lyman, who is currently president of the Rockefeller Foundation and was Stanford president from 1970-80. Seven hours later, after the administration responded in an open meeting at Tresidder Union, Washington shouted to the assembled crowd, "All our demands have been met!" "The BSU showed a very astute sense of how to play their cards and just how far to go in support of these demands," Lyman reflected. "Almost overnight, [the BSU] became a very prominent part of the campus action." Leo Bazile, 1968-70 BSU cochair and now an Oakland city councilmember, described the climate of the Stanford black student movement during his leadership as a "very volatile environment. Everybody was questioning tradition and values. People coincided in many cases and diverged in others." "The primary point of coming together was around questioning of institutional racism," Bazile said.

The 1970s were a time of 'backward political motion. People got afraid and people got comfortable...' — Keith Archuleta

One of the 1968 demands called for the admission of 10 minority students who do not meet the minimal academic requirements. As promised, this demand was fulfilled, and by 1971, nine of these 10 students were enrolled and in good academic standing, according to a Febuary 1971 Daily article. Improvement of minority enrollment has remained a vital issue for the BSU. "For 80 years, Stanford did not admit students of color to the University," Phillips said. "It took the assassination of King and the uproar that followed to change the situation."

With the change in the political climate, the government began to challenge the progress of the civil rights movement, according to 1977-78 BSU Chair Keith Archuleta. Archuleta said the challenge included the National Guard's attack at Kent State and increased intelligence gathering on black liberation organizations by J. Edgar Hoover's FBI and the CIA. Another obstacle, according to Archuleta, was the Supreme Court's ruling in Bakke v. University of California that nationally instituted what he calls "reverseracism." This "conservative backlash" induced a retreat from the progressive rights movement both at Stanford and across the nation, he argued.

Quietly resisting conformity, Stanford's BSU nearly slipped away into non-existence, according to Archuleta. Archuleta described the era of his leadership as a time of "backward political motion. People got afraid and people got comfortable — blacks included." According to Phillips, the BSU probably would not have survived "if it hadn't been for Keith (Archuleta) in '75." Archuleta continues to be an active voice at Stanford. He is currently director of Black Community Services Center, assistant dean of Student Affairs and a resident fellow at Mirrielees House.

Concerns of the BSU during the 70s included divestment in South Africa, development of an AfroAmerican studies department, the establishment of a black theme house and learning assistance center and revising the Western Civilization requirement which, as Archuleta described, came back in 1980 under the disguise of Western Culture.

Since its inception, the BSU has also been a source of cultural and community outreach programs. Poet Amiri Baraka was one of many speakers brought to Stanford by the BSU in the early 19705, Kemp said. She cited tutoring, talent shows and the 1970 founding of a black student newspaper, The Colonist, (which later became the The Real News) as further cultural structures fostered by the BSU. Many of the programs for which the BSU fought over the years have benefited other minority groups and the campus at large. The learning assistance center, housed in Sweet Hall, for example, came about because of the BSU demands, Archuleta said. The BSU was also instrumental in last spring's formation of the Rainbow Agenda, a coalition of people of color committed to the fight against institutional racism, according to Kemp. "It isn't just a fight for black people," she said. "The BSU is a catalyst for justice overall on this campus." "Just about every aspect of this campus related or committed to diversity is linked in some way to the BSU," Phillips said. The progress of the BSU had come full circle as the "conservative" flickering fire of the '70s sparked new rage in the early '80s.[3]

"What bad checks has Stanford given students of color?"


"What bad checks has Stanford University given to its students of color?"

"What We are Fighting For What We are Working Toward?"

Otero Lounge, Tues. Jan. 26, 6:15 a one-hour panel discussion in commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.[4]


Amanda Kemp - Voter registration activist California Rainbow Coalition.[5]


Amanda Kemp was a contributor to Unity, April 20, 1987, the newspaper of the League of Revolutionary Struggle. Chair of the Black Student Union at Stanford University.



Amanda Kemp, endorsed Unity, newspaper of the League of Revolutionary Struggle, May 4, 1987.

California African/Black Student Statewide Alliance

In 1989 Amanda Kemp was a writer and student, and a leader of the California African/Black Student Statewide Alliance.[6]

Unity staff writers/researchers

In 1990 staff writers/researchers for Unity, newspaper of the League of Revolutionary Struggle included Wilma Chan, Anthony Cody, Karega Hart, Denise Imura, Amanda Kemp, Stacey Leyton, Eva Martinez, John Martyn, Yuri Miyagawa, Frank Ogletree, Nic Paget-Clarke, Peter Saltzman, Peter Shapiro, Andy Wong, Bernice Wuethrich.

In 1992 staff writers/researchers for Unity, newspaper of the Unity Organizing Committee included Brendan Carroll, Anthony Cody, Lucky Gutierrez, Karega Hart, Amanda Kemp, Eva Martinez, Yuri Miyagawa, Juan Montemayor, Frank Ogletree, Nic Paget-Clarke, Tom Ryan, Peter Saltzman, Peter Shapiro, Denise Teraoka.

"A call to build an organization for the 1990s and beyond"

Unity, January 28 1991, issued a statement "A call to build an organization for the 1990s and beyond" on pages 4 to 6.

This group was a split in the League of Revolutionary Struggle which soon became the Unity Organizing Committee.

Those listed as supporters of the call included Amanda Kemp, playwright Los Angeles.


Steve Phillips February 9, 2014 near San Francisco, CA ·

Throwback Sunday!! Truly old skool, long-term, lifetime friends. #comrades — with Pierre Barolette, Stacey Leyton, Kathleen Coll, Cheryl Taylor, Amanda Kemp, Michael Jamanis and Georgina Hernandez-Clarke.


  1. LSU Our Story, accessed July 18, 2018
  2. Stanford Report, January 25, 2006Aurora Forum panelists examine campus, global legacy of anti-apartheid struggle BY BARBARA PALMER
  3. [The Stanford Daily, Volume 193, Issue 16, 23 February 1988]
  4. [The Stanford Daily, Volume 192, Issue 65, 26 January 1988 ]
  5. [Mother Jones, Feb/March 1989 page 12]
  6. Forward Spring/Summer 1989