US human rights activist, Reverend Al Sharpton, says South Africa must continue along the path of the economic empowerment of the black majority as this is the key to true emancipation.
Sharpton was delivering the 20th Steve Biko Memorial Lecture – titled “Black lives Matter”.
He says Steve Biko became dangerous to the Apartheid state because he embodied the growing consciousness of black people about their worth, dignity and rights.
He adds that change to the political class must be accompanied by a change to the economic structure of South Africa – where severe inequality persists.
Biko was killed while in the custody of the apartheid police on 12 September 1977.
Sharpton says Biko embodied the aspirations of black people around the world and his advocacy of black consciousness was a key moment in the fight for freedom.
He says Biko broke the pattern in the 1970s where black people questioned their self-worth and replaced that with a sense of confidence and inner value.
Sharpton adds that this took the form of the Black Power movement in the US.
Earlier, Biko’s son Nkosinathi spoke about the comments of apartheid-era Police Minister Jimmy Kruger following his father’s death.
Nkosinathi also spoke about the indivisibility of the humanity of black people and asked for a moment of silence for the more than 900 000 people who have died worldwide from COVID-19.
He raised concerns about the extreme poverty and inequality that still exists in South Africa.