On March 21, 1960 in the black township of Sharpeville, near Johannesburg, South Africa, Afrikaner police open fire on a group of unarmed black South African demonstrators, killing 69 people and wounding 180 in a hail of submachine-gun fire. The demonstrators were protesting against the South African government’s restriction of nonwhite travel. In the aftermath of the Sharpeville massacre, protests broke out in Cape Town, and more than 10,000 people were arrested before government troops restored order.

he killing of 69 peaceful protesters at Sharpeville on 21 March 1960, sent shockwaves around the country and the world.

he killing of 69 peaceful protesters at Sharpeville on 21 March 1960,
sent shockwaves around the country and the world.

The incident convinced anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela to abandon his nonviolent stance and organize paramilitary groups to fight South Africa’s system of institutionalized racial discrimination.

Nelson Mandela, Circa 1960

Nelson Mandela, Circa 1960

In 1964, after some minor military action, Mandela was convicted of treason and sentenced to life in prison.  He was released after 27 years and in 1994 was elected the first black president of South Africa.

Jailed for 27 years, Nelson Mandela, leader of the movement to end South African apartheid, is released on February 11, 1990. In June 1990, the 77th Session of the International Labour Conference played host to Nelson Mandela, at the time Deputy President of the African National Congress (ANC).

Jailed for 27 years, Nelson Mandela, leader of the movement to end South African apartheid, is released on February 11, 1990. In June 1990, the 77th Session of the International Labour Conference played host to Nelson Mandela, at the time Deputy President of the African National Congress (ANC).

On December 5, 2013, Nelson Mandela died.

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