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Key Mandela moments: A biographical timeline

- Staff writer

Crowds cheer as a police van brings prisoners to the Drill Hall, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Dec. 31, 1956, for the start of the 'Treason Trial.' Nelson Mandela was among the people arrested and standing trial. (AP)

2. Organizational start

1948: Afrikaner National Party wins general election on apartheid platform and begins implementing discriminatory policies. 

1951: Nelson Mandela becomes ANC Youth League President.

1952: Start of the “Defiance Campaign.” Blacks, coloreds and Indians use "white-only" facilities and break nighttime curfews. Also that year, Mandela and Mr. Tambo found South Africa’s first black law firm; they focus on apartheid cases related to persecution of black Africans.

1955: Mandela helps develop the Freedom Charter, the precursor to South Africa's democratic constitution; it is launched in Kliptown, Soweto.

1956: Mandela and 155 others are arrested and tried for treason. After a four-year trial, they are acquitted.

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