March 21 – A Sad Anniversary and Two Important Holidays

Posted on March 21, 2016

It was a horrific system of racial segregation and discrimination.

It kept the white minority in power, and it limited the rights and freedom of the majority black population.

I bet you know that I am talking about apartheid in South Africa, a system that held sway from World War II to the early 1990s.

Of course apartheid sparked resistance and protest! Today is the anniversary of a peaceful protest against the Pass Laws, a part of the apartheid system. The protest occurred in Sharpeville on this date in 1960. We remember the day, not so much for the peaceful protest, but instead for the violent and deadly response by police, who shot into the crowd and killed 69 people and wounded 180 more!

Now that the apartheid system has been ended, now that South Africa has a constitution that gives equal rights to all, the nation remembers the tragedy with a day that is meant to reaffirm the importance of human rights, liberty and justice for all, equality – all that important stuff. Although the international Human Rights Day is December 10, South Africa's Human Rights Day is March 21. 

The horror of the Sharpeville massacre reverberated around the world and inspired protests from international sources. Of course, there had been some international criticism from apartheid's beginnings, but after the massacre, more and more organizations spoke out against the system. South Africa found itself increasingly isolated from the rest of the world in several ways: sports, culture, tourism, trade. There were cultural boycotts and economic sanctions. South Africa could no longer be a member of the British Commonwealth. 

Starting in 1966, the United Nations declared March 21 to be the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. We are all urged to find ways to fight racism, promote tolerance, discuss human rights, and so forth. 

Some young people participate in online discussions about racial discrimination on Voices of Youth, an online bulletin board.

Also on this date:

Plan ahead:
And here are my Pinterest boards for:

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