(CNN) — It’s the iconic image that grabbed the world’s attention and helped change the course of South African history.
Thirty-four years ago Wednesday, on June 16, 1976, thousands of black school children in Soweto, South Africa, took to the streets to protest the apartheid education system that obliged them to be taught in Afrikaans.
It was supposed to be a peaceful protest, but the students were met with police gunfire and at least 23 of them were killed.
One of the first youths to be killed was 12-year-old Hector Pieterson.
His death was captured in a photograph that came to define South Africa’s liberation struggle.