Apartheid in South Africa

Apartheid (meaning “apartness” in the language of Afrikaans) was a system of segregationist policies against non-white citizens in South Africa. Lasting for the better part of 50 years, this system of racial segregation and white supremacy was marked by a physical separation of non-white South Africans and white South Africans, even going as far as to strip black South Africans of their land and forcing them into poverty, as well as removing black South Africans from the nations’s political body.

Opposition to apartheid in South Africa ranged from non-violent protests to political action and armed resistance. The Sharpesville massacre in March of 1960, a non-violent resistance demonstration that resulted in the death of more than 60 black South Africans and the wounding of 180 more, led anti-apartheid leaders to establish military wings. Nelson Madela, a founder of the military wing of the African National Congress, was imprisoned from 1963-1990. 

In 1976, thousands of black children in Soweto were killed while protesting against the Afrikaans language (which black South African students were forced to learn in place of English as a way to limit them). Gaining international attention, this event increased opposition to apartheid policies. Facing pressure, support for the system continued to lessen until, in 1994, the all-white government was replaced by a nonwhite majority, marking an official end to apartheid.

Civil Rights Movement in the United States

Taking place mainly during the 1950s and 1960s, this struggle for social justice in the United States was marked by a mobilized effort to gain equal rights for Black Americans under the law. 

Key activists and figures included Martin Luther King, Jr., whose push for nonviolence and peaceful protests led to organized efforts such as sit-ins, bus boycotts, and the March on Washington in August of 1963, where an estimated 250,000 people gathered to draw attention to the inequalities that existed in the United States. 

Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael were major figures of the Black Panther Party, which began as a direct challenge to police brutality. The party also organized important community programs, like providing access to food, healthcare, and education to those in need of services. Leaders of the Black Panther Party became vilified and were accused of criminal activities that led to waning membership in the 1970s and 1980s.

Somi Kakoma Listening Session

Somi Kakoma


Miriam Makeba Listening Session

Miriam Makeba


Additional Reading Resources

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