Saturday, June 16, 2012

This Day in History June 16, 1976

I knew nothing about this before I researched it, but it was on this date in 1976 that The Soweto uprising in South Africa occurred.  Here is some information about this day in South African history.

The seeds of this uprising can be found in the disparity between black and white schools in South Africa.  Whites had all the advantages, and blacks basically had nothing.  And in January 1975, it was decreed that classes for blacks would be partially conducted in English and partially conducted in the language Afrikaans.  This caused a problem because the majority of teachers did not even know the language, and now they were expected to teach lessons in it.  The focus now became learning the language rather than learning the content.
And this language was viewed as the language of the oppressors.

It was the morning of today's feature when a rally of black students occurred in Soweto.  About 15,000 to 20,000 students organized a rally.  As they marched, they discovered that there was a police barricade blocking their intended route.  Police dogs were released on the students to keep them from continuing on their path, but the students began to throw stones at the dogs.  And the police fired the first shot. A 12-year-old student was killed.  Tear gas was released.  

As a result of this uprising, 575 people died that year across the country--451 at the hands of police.  There were 3,907 wounded--2,389 at the hands of police.  About 5, 980 were arrested.  As a result of all of this, schools were finally allowed to choose how they would teach, but police were also allowed to detain people for no reason.  Not until democracy truly came after the 1980's did things improve.

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