They were then detained in Port Elizabeth under Section 6 of the then Terrorism Act. What happened after that can only fairly be called murder. Read it all here, from an inside South Africa historical perspective.
But what also happened after that, was a cascading chain of events, that ultimately led to the release from prison of Nelson Mandela, and his eventual presidency.
[That very same day in 1977, I was finishing up a last graveyard shift in the hard rock mines, mailing off all I had earned to the university, and preparing to set off for my first year of college, where a whole new world awaited me -- out of that small mountain town I was then leaving. I had by then received all the benefit of American privilege, no doubt.]
Of course, in August of 1977, I wasn't then even remotely aware of these ongoing struggles in South Africa. But in the ensuing decade, along with most of the rest of planet, I became acutely aware of them, there and here. That was due in no small part to the life -- and death -- of Bantu Steve Biko.
So I'd ask you to stop a moment this afternoon, and ponder which ideas -- here in our nation -- should "live on." Should we remain the most-free nation on Earth? Or should we build walls, conduct religious tests at our borders (and even more ominously, inside them)? The ideas written in our founding charter are too grand, too revolutionary, and hard-won, to sacrifice -- to a thin-skinned petulant man-child.
Please -- we all know so many who have died -- that these ideas might live on: "out of many, one. . ." That is what our currency says (in the original Latin) -- and it is in a very real sense the capital that has distinguished our nation, many times. Don't turn your back on it, America. And do pause to thank Bantu Steve Biko, too. And thank all who came before -- and after -- him, who were willing to die for the ideas of pluralism, and the progress of humankind.
The eyes of the world are watching now... watching now.