African American Students Foundation (Cora Weiss) collection Edit


MSS 341 large
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by London Wilson in January 2012, updated by Leslie M. Behm, 2016.
Description Rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


  • 1957-2009 (Creation)


  • 5 Linear Feet (Whole)
    7 boxes



  • Conditions Governing Access

    The collection is open for research.

  • Conditions Governing Use

    Copyright is retained by the author of the items in this collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

  • Preferred Citation

    Item, Folder number and/or title, Box number, African American Students Foundation (AASF) "African Airlift" collection, MSS 341, Special Collections, MSU Libraries, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.

  • Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Collection donated by Cora Weiss in 2010.

  • Processing Information

    Processed by London Wilson in January 2012, updated by Elisa Landeverde and Leslie M. Behm in 2016.

  • Biographical / Historical

    "In April 1959 Kenyan trade unionist Tom Mboya came to the United States for a six week tour organized by the American Committee on Africa.... At the end of the tour Mboya had promises for over 40 scholarships. Shortly after Mboya returned to Kenya the African American Students Foundation (AASF) was established to raise money to bring the students to the United States. The AASF raised an initial $39,000 and the first 81 students arrived in September 1959. Baseball star Jackie Robinson and performers Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier led the initial fundraising. ... In 1960 the Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation gave $100,000 to AASF. As a result in 1960 three planes were chartered bringing 222 students from east and central Africa. In all over 770 students from 10 East African countries, 85 percent from Kenya, came to the United States and most returned to civil servant positions after independence. AASF was founded by William X. Scheinman who served on the board. Frank Montero and Ted Kheel were also on the board of AASF. Cora Weiss was Executive Director and student adviser. AASF sponsoring organizations included the American Committee on Africa and the Phelps Stokes Fund. Students included Wangari Maathai who later became the first African women Nobel Peace laureate. Barack Obama Sr, father of 44th President of the United States, did not come on one of the planes charted by the African American Students Foundation but did receive financial support from the foundation once he was in the U.S."--African Activist Archive website (

  • Scope and Contents

    This is the collection of materials from the African American Student Foundation, 1959-1963. It contains hundreds of letters from students wishing to come to America for college; fundraising letters; financial letters; newspaper clippings on the impact of this unusual initiative; and memos, reports, and letters reflecting the extraordinary tension and political attacks showing the apparent threat this effort was causing.

  • General

    Forms part of the African Activist Archive.

  • Varying Form of Title

    African American Students Foundation collection

  • Varying Form of Title

    African American Students Foundation (AASF) collection.

  • Varying Form of Title

    Cora Weiss (African American Students Foundation) collection.

  • Varying Form of Title

    Kenya Airlift collection.

  • Varying Form of Title

    African Airlift collection.

  • Related Materials

    Cora Weiss papers, DG 222, at Swarthmore College