Why was the death of activist Steve Biko so significant?

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saintfester eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Steve Biko was one of the most important anti-apartheid activists of the 1970’s.

Biko was a student activist that decided to form an new, colored student association to fight apartheid. The South African Student Organization (SASO) sought to unite black students in what Biko called a “black consciousness” This movement is Biko’s most important legacy, as it allowed colored students to form more solidarity amongst their various groups.

Biko was slammed with stiff restrictions by the apartheid regime, so harsh that it became illegal to even quote him. He managed to support many grassroots organizations, some of which contributed to the 1976 Soweto Uprising . After this violent event, Biko was targeted by the police.

Biko’s death was a media firestorm. After being interrogated by police officers for hours, he died while in route to a police hospital.

His death shined a light on the brutality of the apartheid regime and resulted in more international pressure on the government of South Africa to relent with their apartheid policies.