In 1975, African Schools received a directive from the previous Bantu Education Department, stating that Afrikaans had to be used as a language of instruction in Black schools. On June 16th 1976, over 20000 students began to protest against this. South Africa was in the midst of Apartheid and although uprisings and liberation movements were banned throughout the country, the Soweto protest started off peacefully (the students were unarmed) but as the protest gathered momentum, things started to get violent as police opened fire and killed hundreds of youths. The class of 1976 bravely stood up for what they believed in, challenged the government and took to the streets in protest. In doing so they shifted the whole notion that labourers were the only necessary force to challenge the apartheid regime. Youth Day commemorates these people and these events.
To view images that captured these events, including the famous picture of Hector Pieterson who was killed in the protest, go to South African History Online