Red Square

This open-air space is what remains of a large meeting place known as Red Square, which existed until the Nicol Square parking garage was built in 1967. The area became vacant during the 1890s when a railway line that originally occupied the space was relocated. While public facilities soon filled the parts of the former rail corridor closer to the centre of town, the western portion was left undeveloped. Later officially renamed Nicol Square, the public space was convenient for large political gatherings, most notably for rallies held by the South African Communist Party. The SACP offices were across the street in Lakhani Chambers, which made this a convenient space for Communist Party leaders to address crowds of workers. The authorities later regarded any protests here as Communist inspired, which resulted in the name “Red Square”. The 1946 Resistance Campaign against the Asiatic Land Tenure Act in 1946, organised by the Natal Indian Congress, also began on this site. On 13 June 1946 Dr Monty Naicker and Dr Yusuf Dadoo led a march of 15 000 people from Red Square to a municipal park at Umbilo, which was symbolically occupied. The ANC’s Defiance Campaigns, including those against the pass laws and discriminatory by-laws in the 1950s, saw mass gatherings of up to 3 000 people at Red Square. When the Durban strikes broke out in January 1973, large crowds of workers gathered here to consult with union leaders based in offices at Lakhani Chambers.

Location

Address: corner of Dr Monty Naicker St and Dr Yusuf Dadoo St
GPS Points: -29.85286, 31.02419
Site Contact Details: Steven Kotze
Durban Local History Museums
steven.kotze@durban.gov.za
031 311 2239

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