International timeline since 1900

The full history of student protest across the globe is beyond the scope of this archive. Accordingly, the material below is a condensation of some of the events and location most relevant to Black student activism.

South Africa

South Africa was the site of large-scale student activism concurrent with larger civilian unrest during the struggle against apartheid. Students played a pivotal role in this uprising, and unfortunately also incurred some of the worst violence and governmental prosecution.

Overview of South African Black student activist organization, especially focusing on 1960-1980.

March 12, 1960– Sharpeville Massacre. Among large-scale protests against apartheid, police fire on a crowd of around 7,000 Black protesters, killing 69 and leading to a nationwide chain of riots and protests.

June 16, 1976 – Over 10,000 students in the town of Soweto, South Africa march in opposition to a decree imposing Afrikaans as the official language taught in middle and high schools. Police fire on the crowd, killing two, and sparking an uprising that spread across the major urban centers of South Africa.

2015- #Rhodesmustfall, aimed at removing statues and monuments dedicated to Cecil Rhodes on South African college campuses, takes off.

2016- In the fall, Black students at University of the Witwatersrand and University of KwaZulu-Natal over rising tuition and fees that inhibit lower income Black students.


1930’s- History of Student Protest of Brazil.  A synopsis of student activism in Brazil beginning in 1930 and ending in 1968. 

1938- Formation of the União Nacional dos Estudantes (UNE), an organization representing millions of students designed to improve higher education conditions. The group became antifascist and was active during WWII, protesting against Brazil’s failure to denounce Axis powers.

1964– In the wake of a military coup, the UNE was targeted by conservative groups for siding with the previous president João Goulart.  The organization’s headquarters was burned down by conservative civilians.

The new regime saw the UNE as antagonistic and threatening. In November of 1964 they passed Law No. 4464, also known as “Lei Suplicy

This law made the UNE illegal, and furthermore criminalized politicization and activism in the classroom.

Overview of Resistance post-1964

Black movements in Brazil from 1930 onward, focusing on the post-dictatorship era.

2016– Protesters in favor of first female Brazilian President (not just a student protest, but students were heavily involved)

2016– Student occupations


Recently, Guyana has faced many protests over tuition increases combined with sub-par facilities, which have not improved appreciably in the face of the tuition hikes.

2016- University of Guyana students protest raise in fees/tuition made without their knowledge, angry about the school not making any changes to things they cared about

Paris, France

Paris has been romanticized as an accepting place for Black folks, especially Black artists. The contrast between this myth and the reality of institutionalized racism and history of colonization has created a hotspot for Black student protests.

October 2005 – large protests ensue after “two French youths of Malian and Tunisian descent were electrocuted as they fled the police.”

July 19, 2016 – “death while in police custody of Adama Traoré, a 24-year-old black man,” brought the Black Lives Matter Movement of Paris into the spotlight as protests sparked across the country.

February 23 2017 – students protest the rape of a black student


The year of “Everyone to the Barricades,” as described by the Guardian. Beyond the United States, 1968 saw a wave of student uprisings, and political upheaval across the globe. The intensity and culture of protests varied across nations.

  • March 8 1968 – Polish political crisis began
  • 1968 – Summer Olympics in Mexico City
  • Atelier Populaire – a student collective that produced a vast amount of artwork in Paris during the protests.
  • Tlatelolco Massacre – October 2nd, 1968. Government forces and police kill between 30 and 300 protesting civilians, mainly students, as part of a larger “Dirty War” of political repression.
  • In Brazil, the killing of Edson Luis at the hands of police sparked nationwide protests, culminating in the passage of Institutional Act No. 5, which ushered in an era of governmental surveillance and restriction of civil liberties.