First Lady Pays Homage to Slain 13-Year-Old
Throughout first lady Michelle Obama's trip to Africa, The Root will be running selected press pool reports.
FLOTUS POOL REPORT 2 -- 6/22/11
Johannesburg -- First lady Michelle Obama paid homage Wednesday to a 13-year-old boy killed by police in 1976 after he was swept up in the spasm of a street protest triggered by a law requiring students to abandon local languages and study in Afrikaans, the language of the descendants of Dutch settlers. Even some exams were written in Afrikaans.
Thirty-five years later, Hector Pieterson lives on as an enduring symbol of the bloody clashes that came before the slow death of apartheid. The teen's slaying spawned the "Soweto uprising," local demonstrations that caught fire across the country.
Pieterson is immortalized not least because of a photo showing an 18-year-old student carrying his lifeless body as Pieterson's distraught sister runs alongside. That sister, Antoinette Sithole, accompanied Obama as she laid a wreath at Pieterson's memorial, located in Soweto a few hundred yards from where he was gunned down.
The first lady and five family members with her on a weeklong trip to Africa later toured the adjacent museum that lets the world know about his short life and bloody death.
She is with her mother, daughters Sasha, 10, and Malia, 12, and a niece, 15, and nephew, 19.
--Katherine Skiba, Chicago Tribune
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