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Apartheid Timeline
Timeline Description: Apartheid was a time in South Africa between 1948 and 1994 when the government made laws to discriminate against black people. The National Party ruled Africa during that time and made the laws. Everything, including medical care, education, and even the country's beaches were segregated by race. Apartheid did not end until Nelson Mandela was elected president.

Date Event
May 1948 Apartheid begins after the 1948 general election.

Hoping to get votes from the white Africans, the National Party promises to make laws severely restricting black rights if they win the general election. The National Party defeats the United Party and apartheid begins.
June 1952 The African National Congress starts the Defiance Campaign.

Volunteers begin a peaceful resistance to apartheid by breaking the laws they think are wrong. The peaceful protests include black people sitting on benches marked for white people only and being out in the city after the curfew set for blacks.
1953 The Bantu Education Act is passed.

A law is passed that creates a separate education system for blacks and whites. Blacks are trained to prepare them for a life as part of the working class since it is not expected that they will be allowed to do anything more than that.
December 1956 Nelson Mandela is arrested for treason.

Nelson Mandela, an anti-apartheid activist, is arrested with several other people for fighting against apartheid. He is charged with treason, but after a four-year trial he is found not guilty.
1959 Separate homelands are created for the major black groups.

The government passes new laws to create separate homelands, called Bantustans, for the major black groups in the country. The government does this to stop blacks from being citizens of South Africa.
March 21, 1960 Sixty-nine people are killed in the Sharpeville Massacre.

Apartheid requires blacks to carry passbooks, which contain personal information such as name, date of birth, and photos. When protestors show up at the Sharpeville police station without their passbooks, a riot breaks out and police kill 69 people.
August 5, 1962 Nelson Mandela is arrested for treason.

Mandela was the leader of Umkhonto we Sizwe, part of the African National Congress. He is arrested for his role in bombing government targets and sentenced to life in prison.
November 11, 1965 Rhodesia illegally gains independence from Great Britain.

Prime Minister Ian Smith announces that Rhodesia has broken away from Great Britain and that whites will control the government. Great Britain had been prepared to only grant independence if blacks were given some of the power in government.
November 1974 South Africa is expelled from the United Nations.

Due to apartheid, South Africa is removed from the United Nations. South Africa is not allowed back into the United Nations until apartheid ends in 1994.
June 16, 1976 More than 600 students are killed in the Soweto Massacre.

High school students in Soweto start a protest for an improved education system for blacks. Police break up the protest with tear gas and bullets, killing more than 600 people.
September 12, 1977 Anti-apartheid activist Steve Bilko is killed.

Steve Bilko, one of the organizers of the Soweto protest, is arrested on August 18, 1977. He dies in police custody on September 12 and the cause of death is severe brain damage, likely from being beaten by police.
1985 Musicians form Artists United Against Apartheid.

Musician Steven Van Zandt forms Artists United Against Apartheid after touring South Africa. The album "Sun City" comes out on December 7 and features several anti-apartheid songs, including "Silver and Gold" by U2.
August 12, 1986 Paul Simon releases the album "Graceland."

Paul Simon traveled to South Africa to make the album "Graceland" with local South African musicians. When the album is released on August 12, 1986, Simon is criticized by many people, including the African National Congress, for breaking the cultural boycott.
February 2, 1990 President Frederik Willem de Klerk ends the ban on the African National Congress.

Even though he supported segregation at one time, President Frederick Willem de Klerk lifts the ban on the African National Congress in 1990. In 1993, de Klerk wins the Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela for helping end apartheid.
February 11, 1990 Nelson Mandela is released from prison.

After 27 years in prison, Nelson Mandela is freed from prison. Mandela thanks President de Klerk for helping set him free, but says that there is more work to be done to end apartheid.
May 10, 1994 Nelson Mandela becomes president of South Africa.

In the country's first election that allowed both whites and blacks to vote, Nelson Mandela is elected president of South Africa. He is the first black president in the history of South Africa.