For nearly a century, U.S. society displayed little concern for the institutionalized racial oppression that evolved into apartheid. Sporadic incidents in South Africa drove home the incompatibility between that nation’s racialist ideology and American democratic principles, but pro-apartheid interest groups dominated the foreign policymaking process. Flashes of hope accompanied the new post-World War II international consensus on abhorrence of political systems based on racial discrimination and denial of basic human rights. The first wave of African independence movements during the 1950s signaled a rapid end to colonialism. Yet for the next thirty years, Washington officials, citing the dangers of Soviet aggression and premature African independence, resisted citizen group claims that apartheid compromised American principles and endangered the long-term interests of the United States.