Now this last one piqued my curiosity. Not because I didn’t know the history of apartheid in South Africa. I followed it closely having grown up in America’s segregated south.
On the morning of June 16, 1976, in Soweto, South Africa, school children took to the streets in protest. The number of students standing up for their right to speak their native language rather than Afrikaans (a Germanic language) was estimated at 20,000.
[bctt tweet=”June 16, 1976, was a bloody day. More than 200 unarmed children were killed and thousands injured by police. “]
These young protesters had lived their lives under apartheid and resisted learning under and speaking Afrikaans, “the language of the oppressor.” My curiosity was piqued that 1) the uprising made today’s list, 2) because I understood, having grown up experiencing the progress of civil rights movement, and today) because I feel helpless after each report of senseless mass shootings.
June 16, 1976, was a bloody day. More than 200 unarmed children were killed and thousands injured by police. A picture of Hector Pieterson, 13, being carried by Mbuyisa Makhubo along with his sister, Antoinette Sithole, was seen around the world, much like the mass shootings in our schools and most recently the night club in Orlando.
But the dismantling of apartheid began. So, what was different?
Young black South Africans led the nation to end apartheid after studying the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s practice of civil disobedience and nonviolence used to end segregation in America. The South Africans began with healing the people rather than placing blame.
A council of reconciliation was established for both the victims and perpetrators to hear each others’ stories and the truth. And, in South Africa, today is a public holiday named Youth Day.
Now that’s different. I am curious now, why didn’t we think of that?
Valora K Starr is director for discipleship for Women of the ELCA.
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