Steve Biko

(1946 - 1977)

In 1972 Steve Biko cofounded an organization that united black­ consciousness groups; he soon drew social censure and began operating covertly. In 1977 he was jailed, beaten, and left naked and shackled to a fence in Pretoria; he died afterward from a brain hemorrhage. “He had a much greater fear of betraying himself than a fear of physical violence even to the point of death,” anti-apartheid priest Aelred Stubbs later recalled. “He had conquered fear by his inner conviction of his outer undefeatability.”

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The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.

—Steve Biko, 1971

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