The Hector Pieterson Museum, opened on 16 June 2002, is situated in Orlando West, Soweto, near the Hector Pieterson Memorial Site and close to the spot where 12 year old Hector was shot dead by police during the student uprising on 16 June 1976. Dedicated to preserving the memory of the 1976 uprising, the museum houses a collection of oral testimonies, pictures, audiovisual displays, and historical documents that commemorate the role of the youth in the apartheid struggle.
On 16 June, a group of school students gathered to protest the enforcement of Afrikaans as the language of instruction in black secondary schools. The students planned to meet at Orlando Stadium before marching to the regional offices of the Department of Bantu Education. On their way to the stadium, the students were met by police who ordered them to end the march and disperse. A violent confrontation ensued where students threw stones and police opened fire.
Hector Pieterson was one of the first to die in the shootings. Sam Nzima, a photographer for The World newspaper in Johannesburg, was covering the riots in Soweto when he captured the image of Pieterson’s dying body being carried by fellow student, Mbuyisa Makhubo, while his sister, Antoinette Sithole, ran alongside them in a state of panic. This photograph has become an iconic image of that fateful day. Today, 16 June is remembered as National Youth Day.
The Hector Pieterson Museum and Memorial Site have become a symbol of resistance to the brutality of the apartheid government, commemorating Hector and the 565 other people who were slain in the police massacre. There's plenty of interviews, witness accounts, and videos detailing the Soweto Uprising, but the most powerful feature of all is the courtyard filled with hundreds of bricks - each brick with a name of someone who died on or as a result of the Soweto Uprising.
The museum has toilets and a curio shop with souvenirs. A craft market offers all sorts of African arts and crafts at alongside the museum, depending on the weather.