This poster commemorates the life and martyrdom in police custody of Bantu Stephen Biko (1946-1977). Biko, born in the Eastern Cape following the end of World War Two, founder and principal theoretician of the Black Consciousness Movement, sought to find an intermediate path that would bridge the gaps between the rival liberation movements the ANC and PAC while also integrating insights gleaned from the diasporic North American Civil Rights and Black Power Movements from the 1950's, sixties and seventies. Since both PAC and ANC were banned and therefore forced to operate clandestinely, with internal and external political and military wings, Biko intended for his BCM to fill what he perceived as a local vacuum. A widely traveled and highly respected leader, Biko was murdered while detained by the South African police in October 1977. The photograph was taken during his funeral. His legacy survives in books published posthumously, "Biko" by Donald Woods (later the motion picture "Cry Freedom" starring Denzel Washington and Kevin Kline, "I Write What I like" (edited by Aelred Stubbs) and "Steve Biko: Black Consciousness in South Africa," (Millard Arnold, editor) as well as famous song written and performed by Peter Gabriel and the 1987 Filmmaker's Library documentary "Biko: Breaking the Silence." Most importantly, his memory lives on in the work of people who remain dedicated to constructing a non-racialist, democratic New South Africa. His KingWilliamsTown house is now a museum.
The following sources about Biko are to be found in McHenry Library: