What was the impact of apartheid on world history?  

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Apartheid was the name given to the system of racial segregation in South Africa in 1948. South Africa was a divided nation, with a white minority ruling class and a oppressed non-white majority class. In 1948 the National Party came to power and its white lawmakers began to enforce legislation...

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Apartheid was the name given to the system of racial segregation in South Africa in 1948. South Africa was a divided nation, with a white minority ruling class and a oppressed non-white majority class. In 1948 the National Party came to power and its white lawmakers began to enforce legislation regarding segregation in South Africa. Apartheid, an Afrikaans word literally translated as "apart hood", can be compared to racial segregation in the United States during the Jim Crow Era.

Under the Apartheid policies, black South Africans were forced to live in certain neighborhoods only for black South Africans, use separate facilities from white South Africans, could only have limited contact with white South Africans, and eventually were not even permitted to engage in nonviolent protest against these policies. One group that opposed the policies of Apartheid was the African National Congress. The African National Congress (ANC) held a different view on how South Africa should be governed. The ANC view was one of majority rule in South Africa and certainly the involvement of black South Africans in the national government.

One of the most famous leaders in the struggle against Apartheid was a leader of the ANC named Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela's struggle gained attention for the cause of black South Africans and his name became recognizable in the controversy surrounding Apartheid. Mandela would remain imprisoned from 1963-1990 for his opposition to Apartheid, but his imprisonment would serve to increase international public opinion against the system of Apartheid.

In the 1970s and 1980s international opposition to Apartheid grew. The U.N. officially declared opposition to the policies of South Africa's white government. In 1985 the U.S.A. and United Kingdom placed economic sanctions on South Africa. The economic sanctions put South Africa's government into a difficult situation. The response to Apartheid from the international community coupled with the economic punishments placed on South Africa forced their government to address the injustice of Apartheid. In 1990 the government of F.W. De Klerk began to dismantle the policies that enforced Apartheid. In 1994 a new constitution would be drawn up and it would include the right for black South Africans to vote and participate in government. The elections of 1994 also saw South Africa elect a majority black South African government for the first time in the country's history.

Apartheid's impact on world history can be seen by how it was brought to an end. It is a story that shows us an example of a social injustice that should not be tolerated. Racial segregation and discrimination are not morally acceptable, and the fight to end Apartheid in South Africa was a fight against that. Additionally it shows us the power of peaceful protest and sacrifice. Many black South African leaders, most notably Nelson Mandela, were willing to sacrifice freedom for a cause they strongly believed in (ending Apartheid). Apartheid is another example of the success of peaceful protest in effecting change. It is comparable to the efforts of Martin Luther King Jr. in his crusade to end racial inequality in the United States, Lech Walesa and Solidarity in their efforts to bring an end to communism in Poland, or Gandhi's attempts to gain independence for India. Finally, Apartheid and the struggle to end it also demonstrated the power that nations like the United States and the United Kingdom had in bringing change to foreign nations. The economic pressure placed on South Africa's government by the U.S. and U.K. helped to force the South African government to abandon their Apartheid policies.

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The major impact of apartheid on world history has come not from the time when the system existed but rather from the time that it was abolished.  The fall of apartheid represented one of the greatest triumphs for human rights in the 20th century.

Apartheid was a system that brutalized non-whites in South Africa for decades.  It denied them many things that are seen as basic human rights.  Because of this, it can be seen as a major evil.  However, the fall of apartheid was a great triumph for good and an uplifting story.  The moral force of anti-apartheid activists such as Bishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela were finally able to wear down white resistance to reform.  When apartheid finally fell, it was an accomplishment similar to that of Gandhi in India or the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.

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