Steve Biko (December 18, 1946 – September 12, 1977)
- Steve Bantu Biko was an icon in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.
- He co-founded the South African Students’ Organization in 1968, an all-Black student group dedicated to the resistance of apartheid.
- He later founded/co-founded two other groups also challenging South Africa’s racist apartheid regime: the Black Consciousness Movement and the Black People’s Convention in 1972.
- His message supporting Black self-reliance was overshadowed by advocacy efforts for multi-racial reconciliation promoted by fellow anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela.
- Biko’s efforts inspired the hit song “Biko” by musician Peter Gabriel, which later became an anti-apartheid anthem.
- In 1973, he was “banned” by the apartheid government, which tried to silence him by prohibiting him from sharing his views with the public.
- His radical views eventually led to him being expelled from St. Francis College in 1972.
- A testimony he gave as a defense witness in May 1967 gave way to the Soweto Uprising, a student demonstration in which police responded with brutal violence, killing many.
- The well-known activist was arrested at the Uprising and help in solitary confinement for 101 days.
- Biko died in police custody in 1977 after a brutal beating by five officers. He suffered a brain hemorrhage.
Steve Biko is part of our Black Rebel series for Black History Month.