Throughout its history, from 1948 to 1994, apartheid served to segregate black South Africans. The National Party, which instituted apartheid, chose the word for its literal meaning, "the state of being apart," in Afrikaans. While the point of the legislation was to separate non-whites from whites, the impact to black South Africans was far more severe than segregation alone.Continue Reading
Apartheid affected nearly every aspect of non-white South Africans' lives. More than 9 million black people lost their right to vote as well as access to basic education. They were also forced to carry passports at all times for easy identification by authorities.
Black South Africans who objected to this treatment were punished severely, including by being incarcerated for up to six months without any type of hearing.
By declaring the Public Safety Act and the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1953, the National Party called a state of emergency allowing authorities to torture and execute anyone they viewed as a threat to the peace.
Black South Africans were not allowed to move from rural areas to cities without permits from the government. Once they received permits, they were forced to find employment in factories and other low-skill environments in the city within three days of arrival. Critics of this policy contended that it created a supply of cheap labor while keeping many black people, children and the elderly, for example, away from centers of population.Learn more about Modern History