Amazing Kids! Magazine

Hector Pieterson: An Amazing Kid from History

By Jordan Brunk, Amazing Kid from History Editor and Contributing Writer


Hector Pieterson is an amazing kid from history. He shows us that even though we are young, we can still bring change into this amazing, yet sometimes difficult world. Hector was born in 1964 in Soweto, South Africa, during the time of Apartheid, which were strict laws put in place based on race. As a child, he often stood up for what he believed in, whether it be with his friends and family or public relations.

While growing up in this burdensome time, Hector and other boys in their school for colored children were required to learn with a language that they did not know. Teachers taught using this language, and students often were very confused on what they were supposed to be learning, seeing as they spoke Afrikaans.

When he was a new teenager and in high school, Hector and his classmates decided that they could not deal with this unknown language any longer and protested publicly for teachers who could teach them in their native voice of Afrikaans. They followed peaceful protest laws for South Africa, demanding in a sincere way that there needed to be change in schools all across the country.

Hector and his friends made signs in their language and decided to walk to a popular place to protest on June 16, 1976. However, they were met by police and other officials along the way who did not want them to hold their signs and protest in a public place even though it was their right to. As a force of anger, stones flew at the police and officials, and guns were brought out, firing at the boys to get them to stop throwing rocks.

Sadly, Hector was dying very fast as a result of a gunshot wound. His friend, Mbuyisa Makhubo, and sister, Antoinette Sithole, hurried to take his body somewhere safe, and later he passed away at only 12 years of age. At that moment, a photographer had taken a picture that would last for decades, the two children carrying the body of their brother and friend.

This picture would show everyone across the globe how strict and unfair apartheid laws were and how there were still some major discrepancies in what was allowed and what wasn’t. At just 12 years old, Hector was an advocate for his rights and change. He did not let fear consume him into backing out of what he believed in.

Hector shows us that we, too, can stand up strong for what we know to be right and true. We can follow his example of selflessness and ability to help so many while he was still very young. He encourages us to make change in the world. In this way, Hector Pieterson truly is an amazing kid from history.