Black South Africans Had A National Stay-At-Home Day
Everyone knows that apartheid was really sucky. There is basically nothing about it that was good, but there were things that were extra super terrible bad. And one of them happened on March 21, 1960 in the town of Sharpeville. Thousands of black South Africans were peacefully protesting when two police officers fired their guns for reasons that are still unclear. Other cops assumed those guys must be shooting for some reason, and 50 of them fired 705 rounds in a matter of seconds. By this point, the crowd was scattering. 69 people were killed, 50 of them women and children. 180 other people were injured. The vast majority of the casualties were shot in the back.
A South African version of The Daily Mail? Haven't they suffered enough?
As a form of protest, May 29th was designated a national "stay-at-home" day. The government tried everything to scare people into going to work. There were wide-scale arrests, printing presses were confiscated, and meetings were banned. Tanks rolled into cities, in the largest peacetime military show of force in the country's history. But in the end, people rose to the occasion. This meant the country effectively ground to a halt. Hundreds of thousands of people risked losing their jobs. Some people went in to work just so they could walk out en masse. Nelson Mandela, who was in hiding at the time and had helped organize the event, considered the day a huge success.
I think he's happy. It's hard to tell.
And in case getting people to stay home from work doesn't sound like THAT much of an achievement, other countries have tried this and failed. In 1926, the UK's miners wanted better conditions and announced a general strike that would end up lasting nine days. Over 1.7 million people took up the call. But the aristocrats and other upper-middle-class people decided they couldn't let the lower classes tell them what to do, so they turned out in droves and took over menial jobs to keep the country running. A famous socialite folded copies of The London Times, while the writer Evelyn Waugh tried his hand at being a cop. In the end, the strike was considered a failure -- probably helped by the fact that even the police who had been on the job less than a week knew not to fire into crowds of people they disagreed with.
For something absolutely worth protesting, read 5 Uncomfortable Truths About Rape on College Campuses. But make sure that if you protest, you don't do it in a hypocritical way, like the homoerotically shirtless men protesting gay rights in 5 Hilarious Ways Angry Protests Proved The Other Side Right.
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