Young people were fighting against the apartheid government's implementation of Afrikaans as the main medium of instruction at school. They took to the streets to peacefully march to Orlando Stadium but were quickly met with police brutality according to SAHistory.org.
According to the Daily Vox when the police were unable to contain the protest and push back from students, the anti-urban terrorism unit was called in. "They came with machine guns to face up to teenagers and closed off movement into Soweto. Unarmed black police officers were withdrawn and the army came in. Helicopters dropped tear gas onto the students."
Furthermore, "skirmishes continued into the morning in some parts but the violence lasted three days before schools were officially shut", reports the Daily Vox.
June 16 is an important part of history so we created a quiz to see how much you remember about the day.
Images: Gallo Images/Bongani Mnguni
Sign up to W24’s newsletters so you don't miss out on any of our hot stories and giveaways.