EAST LANSING. Mich. (UPI) -- American corporations "are the law" in South Africa, according to a black U.S. civil rights activist, and should use their economic influence to end racial segregation there.
Just back from a South African visit with Georgia Rep. Andrew Young and tennis star Arthur Ashe, Dr. Robert L. Green said American business has the power to revolutionize the lives of South African blacks overnight.
"American, French and British corporations are the economic backbone of South Africa," said Green, dean of Michigan State University's College of Urban Development and a former associate of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
"Since I've been back, I've taken a closer look at American corporate involvement in South Africa and I've developed the impression that American corporations are the law," be said.
"And if American corporations took the position that there will be in the future equal pay for equal work, this would revolutionize the economy of black South Africa overnight."
The 17.6 million African blacks, coloreds persons of mixed racial descent and Asians are segregated from the 3.7 million whites.
They are not represented in the government, are denied all civil liberties, receive less than one-third the wages of whites and must pay for their children to attend school.
Green said American companies in South Africa are reinforcing discriminatory policies by conforming to white South African behavior.
He said those who are for American involvement in South Africa as it is today will argue that they are only abiding by that country's policy and law.
"Southerners in the'United States took this position 10 years ago. They argued that blacks were obligated - to obey southern law, and it was the breaking of the law by Martin Luther King Jr. and others that brought about reform in the United States."