21th March: International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually on 21 March. On that day, in 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, against the apartheid pass laws. Proclaiming the day in 1966, the United Nations General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.

In South Africa, Human Rights Day is a public holiday celebrated on 21 March each year. The day commemorates the lives of those who died to fight for democracy and equal human rights for all in South Africa during apartheid, an institutionally racist system built upon racial discrimination. The Sharpeville Massacre on 21 March 1960 is the particular reference day for this public holiday.

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