• Apartheid: A rigid policy of segregation of the nonwhite population in South Africa.
  • Civil Rights: The rights to full legal, social, and economic equality extended to blacks
  • Civil Rights Movement: Movement in the United States beginning in the 1960s and led primarily by blacks in an effort to establish the civil rights of individual black citizens.
  • Segregation: The policy or practice of separating people of different races, classes, or ethnic groups, as in schools, housing, and public or commercial facilities, especially as a form of discrimination.commercial facilities, especially as a form of discrimination.
  • ANC: African National Congress
  • Citizenship: The status of a citizen with rights and duties.
  • Coloured: Of or belonging to a racial group not categorized as white.
  • Sovereign: Supreme rank, power, or authority.
  • Conservatism: The disposition to preserve or restore what is established and traditional and to limit change.

American Civil Rights Movement

The Civil Rights Movement in America was from 1955 to 1968. African American citizens were boycotting their rights to be equal to the white Americans. They pleaded to stop segregation and grant voting rights to everyone.
Important leaders from this movement are described below.

Brown vs. Board of Education

One important event associated with the American Civil Rights Movement is Brown vs. Board of Education. This took place on May 17, 1954 when the Supreme Court stated that it was unconstitutional to segregate white and colored students in public schools and it had a terrible effect on the colored people.

March On Washington

Another Important event is the March On Washington. The March On Washington took place in 1963, it was basically a gathering of civil rights and liberal rights organizations to be part of a great demonstration. Over two-hundred thousand people showed up at the Lincoln Memorial. This is where Martin Luther King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech which he gave in order to help pass a bill to get rid of employment discrimination and related issues.

Civil Rights Time line

Important Leaders:

Martin Luther King Jr.
(January 15, 1929 - April 4, 1968)
external image mlk.jpg
Between 1957 and 1968, MLK Jr. traveled over six million miles and spoke over twenty-five hundred times, appearing wherever there was injustice, protests, and action. He delivered the infamous "I Have A Dream" speech to 250,000 people in Washington DC. At the age of 35, he was the youngest man to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, and gave all $54,123 to the furtherance of the civil rights movement. Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated on April 4, 1968.

Steve (Bantu) Biko
(December 18, 1946 - September 12, 1977)
external image steve-biko.jpg
Biko was a South African activist. He pursued medical studies at University of Natal in 1969. He founded the South African Students Organization (later became known as the Black Peoples Convention) which was an exclusivley black organization that sought to counter white racism with an idea of black pride which drew upon the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. Because of his activism the apartheid state constantly harassed him. He was restricted to King Williams Town in the eastern Cape Province and was not allowed to see more than one person at a time or be quoted in the media. He died in police detention due to lack of medical attention. His death inspired outrage around South Africa and gave momentum to the anti-apartheid struggle.

Rosa Parks
(February 4, 1913 - October 24, 2005)
external image rosa.jpg
Most historians date the beginning of the modern Civil Rights Movement in the United States to December 1, 1955. This was the day that Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger. Due to this, Rosa Parks was arrested and charged of violation of City Ordinance. However, her refusal to give up her bus seat started a huge movement towards ending segregation.

Nelson Mandela
(July 18, 1918 - present)
Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa in 1994. He was leader of the ANC when it was abolished by the government in 1960. Him and other ANC members felt that violence was the only answer to this abolishment. They formed the Umkhonto we Sizwe (meaning "Spear of the Nation" and known as the MK), a military group that Mandela commanded. He secretly left South Africa and went to Ethiopia, Tanzania. England, and Algeria to rally for the MK and undergo military training. Later on return he was arrested and sentenced five years to prison on charges of leaving the country without permission and encouraging strikes. After trial in 1964, while maintaining his opposition to apartheid and openly criticizing the racist regime, Mandela and six of his MK members were sentenced to life in prison. In 1990 when the ANC ban was released, him and the members were as well. Four years later he became president. He served one term before backing down in the next election which was taken over by Thabo Mbeki.

Thabo Mbeki
(1942 - present)
Mbeki, Thabo
Mbeki, Thabo

Mbeki became involved in the ANC (African Naitonal Congress), an anti-apartheid group, as a teenager. In 1962 after the ANC was outlawed by the government, Mbeki went into exile in England. He studied economics there. During the 1970's and 1980's he worked for the ANC as a recruiter, administrator, and diplomat. At the end of the 80's he represented the ANC at secret meetings with South Africa which eventually led to the end of apartheid. He returned to South Africa after 28 years of exile followed by becoming deputy president in 1994 after Nelson Mandela. He suceeded Mandela who declined to run as president in 1998. Mbeki has recieved the reputation of an intelligent politician for correcting inequalities in South Africa without alienating the white minority.

South African Civil Rights and movements

In South Africa, anti-apartheid groups and the ANC struggled against apartheid and living in South Africa.
These struggles took place during 1960 to 1976. There were movements for the white population was
overruling and trying to segregate all the non-whites from the whites as much as possible and this was totally incorrect and racist towards any non-white in South Africa. The coloured population then retaliated through movements and protests. Important figures are described above.


Apartheid laws were set in 1948 and racial discrimination began. Race laws touched every aspect of life, including a prohibition of marriage between non-whites and whites, and the segragation of white-only'' jobs. In 1950, the Population Registration Act required that all South Africans be racially classified into one of three categories: white, black (African), or colored (of mixed decent). The "colored" category included major subgroups of Indians and Asians. A person could not be considered white if one of his or her parents were non-white. A person that was obviously white'' had to have his habits, education, and speech taken into account. A black person would be of or accepted as a member of an African tribe or race, and a colored person is one that is not black or white. The Department of Home Affairs (a government bureau) was responsible for the classification of the citizenry. Non-compliance with the race laws were dealt with harshly. All blacks were required to carry ``pass books'' containing fingerprints, photo and information on access to non-black areas.

South Africa under apartheid
South Africa under apartheid

Apartheid in South Africa:

Racial segregation and the "supremacy" of whites has always been accepted in South Africa before 1948, but during that year, Daniel Malan introduced the apartheid policy in the Afrikaner Nationalist party platform. Thanks to the introduction of this, there has been much quarrel over its "implementation". The main purpose of Apartheid is the separation of the races, ranging from whites to non-whites but also among the Africans themselves, 75 percent of the population was African, the other 25 percent were known as "Coloured", they ranged from Asian to mixed races. The first intentions were on restoring "the separation of races" in urban areas. Portions of the Asian and Coloured population were forced to relocate out of the "white areas". African subdivisions had been overtaken by whites and their homes and towns were demolished and the people living there had to move to new townships.

Between the actions of the Group Area Acts during 1950 and 1986, 1.5 million Africans were removed by force from cities to rural reservations.

Soweto Massacre:

Out of everything that happened during the apartheid in South Africa, the Soweto School-children Massacre was definitely the worst. Soweto is a township twenty-four kilometers southwest of Johannesburg. The population of Soweto had reached one million by 1978. The conditions were awful, and the treatment of the blacks in Soweto was even worse. The problem in Soweto started because South Africa’s Nationalist Party wanted the students to be taught Afrikaans or English only. This was a problem for the students because the students felt that Afrikaans was the language of the oppressor. The children were tired of the results of the apartheid policies, and seeing their parents oppressed by the government, tired of being denied their freedom, and they felt that they had nothing to lose. The morning of June 16, the students protested. The protests broke into violence when the Soweto police came and started firing what most protestors thought were plastic bullets at the protestors. When children started dropping to the ground covered in blood, the protestors fled. While attempting to flee, some smaller children were trampled to death by other protestors. To protect themselves, the children began throwing sticks, rocks, bricks, schoolbags, and whatever they could pick up off the ground. When the fighting had ceased, out of the fifteen thousand schoolchildren involved in the protests the casualty count was 172 blacks killed by police, and 439 blacks injured.

Explanation and comparison of the two movements

Based on opinion, the Civil Rights Movement in America could have had a great impact on some of the events of the civil rights movements in South Africa. One could believe great influences like Martin Luther King affected some of the actions in South Africa, if one man can make such an impact and change laws and history then why wouldn't South African organizations and the ANC be able to make dramatic changes? I believe all the great changes that the Americans were able to accomplish may have given hope to the South Africans showing that it is possible for change and it is possible to overcome wrong with right no matter who they were up against and no matter who they were themselves, they were people and they saw that one person has unlimited potential, even if it means being a part of history. Comparing the two, i would not say that the American Civil Rights Movement was more serious to the extent of life as the South African movements were. The South African movements were happening because the laws that were being passed were for complete segregation. All coloured people (every single person that was not white) had to completely eliminate themselves from some regions of South Africa. The white supremacists wanted absolutely no one other than white people to even be living in some areas. Blacks were the main problem in the American Civil Rights Movements, but none of them had had their homes demolished and destroyed by law and forced to move out from their homes to the extent that the South Africans experienced.

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