14 February 2011
The 1965 Freedom Ride...
It is hard to believe that it is 46 years this month that the Freedom Ride of a group of young activists brought the cold, hard reality of racism, segregation, and the poor state of Aboriginal / Indigenous health, housing and education into the living rooms of ordinary Australians who had consciously or sub-consciously turned a blind eye to the challenges facing our indigenous brothers and sisters.
The Freedom Ride is being recreated this year. This Wednesday will see the 2011 activists passing through Collarenebri where the school will receive them and allow them to talk to the students about those times, the present and the future. I am really looking forward to it and I know that the students are looking forward to it to. It is more than just a period off to many of them.
An interesting factoid is that the group that organised the original Freedom Ride came about because of some stinging criticism of a protest that activists at the University of Sydney had held in support of US Civil Rights and the plight of African-Americans in the early 1960s. This criticism was essentially that it is all fine and dandy to be supporting those in the US in their struggle for equality, but how about you all devote some of that zealous exuberance of youth to advocating for those problems afflicting your own backyard.
From this criticism was born Student Action For Aborigines (SAFA). The group was led by Charles Perkins. Another notable face in the crowd was current Chief Justice of the New South Wales Supreme Court, Jim Spigelman. And, the rest, as they say is history. Hopefully, the students will soak up a great deal of this history through the process.
I just remembered, it is also Black History Month in the US...