Steve Biko, the Anti-Apartheid Activist Who Fought to End White Minority Rule In South Africa

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Steve Biko
F 327437 003 1/1/98 Steven Biko (Photo By Mark Peters/Getty Images)

Steve Biko (December 18, 1946 – September 12, 1977)

  1. Steve Bantu Biko was an icon in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.
  2. He co-founded the South African Students’ Organization in 1968, an all-Black student group dedicated to the resistance of apartheid.
  3. 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.
  4. His message supporting Black self-reliance was overshadowed by advocacy efforts for multi-racial reconciliation promoted by fellow anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela.
  5. Biko’s efforts inspired the hit song “Biko” by musician Peter Gabriel, which later became an anti-apartheid anthem.
  6. In 1973, he was “banned” by the apartheid government, which tried to silence him by prohibiting him from sharing his views with the public.
  7. His radical views eventually led to him being expelled from St. Francis College in 1972.
  8. 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.
  9. The well-known activist was arrested at the Uprising and help in solitary confinement for 101 days.
  10.  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.

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