For Educators: Anti-Apartheid Movement

Activity 1: What is Apartheid?


Documents Needed:

Materials Needed:

Large sheets of easel pad paper and markers
Computer with Internet access
Letter-sized paper and pencils for each student

Teacher Tip


Share with the students the introductory essay about what apartheid is and the role that the Congressional Black Caucus played in changing this practice in South Africa. This can be an in-class reading or an assignment to be discussed in the next class session.

Discussion and Chart Making:
Encourage the students to make a large chart listing the key elements of the South African apartheid government and identify which portion of the population was most affected by it. Display the chart in the classroom for reference during other activities recommended in this lesson.

Extended Activity: South Africa Student Movement: The Soweto Massacre, 1976

To connect the students to stories or narratives of real people who experienced South Africa’s apartheid first-hand, this activity highlights South African youths’ efforts to end unfair educational practices in their schools. The South African Student Movement's march on Soweto was the beginning of the anti-apartheid movement.

Divide the students into small groups of 3-4 students. Distribute the paper and pencils to each student. Tell the students that they will be doing online research about the South African students’ participation in the Anti-Apartheid Movement for education freedom and civil rights.

Begin the activity by sharing with your students the following excerpt from the Guardian, a British newspaper about the children of Soweto’s protesting for their right to learn in their native language. Write the quote on a large sheet of easel paper and it place on the wall for the students to read.

"On the morning of June 16, 1976, a crowd of 10,000 black students gathered in the South African township of Soweto. They were demonstrating against a decree from the apartheid government that all pupils must learn Afrikaans in school. The protest was peaceful, but police opened fire, and at least 566 people were killed in the events that followed. The massacre brought the brutality of the racist regime to the attention of the world - and, some say, marked the beginning of the end for apartheid."

After reading the quote with your students, tell them they are going to review a web source that will provide them additional information about the student march in Soweto. Direct them to view the South African History Online page on the Soweto Uprising, June 16, 1976, for detailed, day-by-day information about what happened during the uprising. With their team members they will review the web site listed below and gather additional facts about the massacre. Have each team prepare a one page report about the incident by responding to the following questions:

Guiding questions for the students' research:

Why did the children organize the protest?
What happened to the children during the protest?
Did the children’s demonstration ultimately achieve their goal?
How did other countries react to this incident?
If you could talk to one of the children who survived the protests, what would you ask them about their life in South Africa in 1976?

Allow the students time to complete their research. Conclude the activity with each team presenting a fact or information they learned about the protest.

Role Playing/Writing:
End this activity by having your students pretend they have traveled to South Africa in 1976 to interview the children who helped to bring change in Soweto. The students can present their information as a news anchor on the Nightly News or CNN or be a news reporter for a newspaper and prepare a headline news article.

To start their research, share with the students the following questions, in addition to a copy of the Congressional Record of House Joint Resolution 317, Soweto Remembrance Day Resolution:

What do you expect to see?
What do you hope to learn from the children?
How do you think you would have been received as an American in their country?
How do you think the Congressional Black Caucus responded to this tragic event as well as America at-large?
Extended Activity: Compare and Contrast the Soweto Student Protest 1976 and the Birmingham, Alabama Children’s Crusade March 1963

This activity is designed to compliment your study about the Civil Rights Movement in the United States and other Human Rights Movements throughout the world. In 1963, more than 1000 students gathered to march in Birmingham for civil rights in one of the most racially divided cities in the U.S. To supplement the number of volunteer adults, organizers recruited children for what became known as the Children’s Crusade. Children who participated ranged from 6 to 18. In an attempt to curtail the demonstration, the Birmingham Police Department used high pressure water hoses and police dogs on the children and bystanders. Media coverage of this event increased national attention on racial segregation in the South.

Screen the following movies for a comparative look at the struggles of black children in the U.S. and in South Africa for freedom and civil rights. The movies may be obtained through Netflix and Blockbuster Films. As a culminating activity, provide your students with large sheets of easel pad paper and have the students create "compare and contrast" charts of the protests highlighting what actions brought attention to the children’s struggles and the ultimate achievement of freedom and civil rights for all.

Mighty Times: The Children's March (2004) (40 minutes). HBO Production. This film highlights the May 2, 1963 Children’s March in Birmingham Alabama.

Sarafina (1992) (117 minutes). Buena Vista Home Entertainment. This film tells the story about the struggle of South African school children for survival and freedom against apartheid.