In 1976, an act was passed which stated that blacks could only receive an education in Afrikaans, the official language of the white oppressors. They also had to pass all the examinations in this language. On 16th June, 15000 students, some only six or seven years old, filled the streets of Soweto(short for Southwest Townships), one of the townships which had developed outside Johannesburg, heading for the Orlando West Junior Secondary School, carrying banners with slogans such as "We Don't want to Learn the Language of Our Oppressors." When the crowd reached a barricade set up by hundreds of armed policemen, the police started shooting. As the students ran, the police continued shooting into the crowd. Hundreds were killed.
Over the next year and a half, mostly black youths surged forward in a wave of protests, stoning cars, setting buildings on fire, blocking off streets, throwing bricks and attacking authorities. The police retaliated, arresting thousands of youths and hundreds died in clashes with the police.