Happy Birthday Biko!

Stephen Bantu Biko, who died fighting apartheid in South Africa, would have turned 70 today.

In the 1960 and 1970s , Biko (Dec. 18, 1946 – Sept. 12,1977) led the movement against apartheid – a system of enforced racial segregation and discrimination in South Africa between 1948 and the early 1990s.

A student leader who went on to found the Black Consciousness Movement which empowered and mobilized much of South Africa’s urban black population, he died in police custody.

He was famous for his slogan, “Black is beautiful.” He described it as meaning, “Man, you are okay as you are. Begin to look upon yourself as a human being”.

In 2002, Nelson Mandela said of Biko, “Living, he was the spark that lit a veld fire across South Africa. His message to the youth and students was simple and clear: Black is Beautiful! Be proud of your Blackness! And with that he inspired our youth to shed themselves of the sense of inferiority they were born into as a result of more than three hundred years of white rule.”