On 16 June 1976, more than 15 000 students gathered at Orlando West Secondary School with the intention of participating in a peaceful march to the nearby Orlando Stadium.
The demonstration had been planned in protest against the use of Afrikaans as the medium of instruction at schools.
However, the police and armed forces responded to the protest violently and the first fatality of the day was Hector Pieterson, a 12 year old pupil who was shot by the police. It is believed that 175 others were also killed that day.
This violent backlash to what was meant to be a peaceful march caught the attention of the international community. After this event, many countries imposed sanctions on South Africa in an attempt to force the apartheid government to ease its repressive rule.