Almost 100 people gathered at the Redfern Community Centre on April 21 for an exhibition and memorial to commemorate the third anniversary of the passing of Ray Jackson.
The memorial, which was organised by Jackson’s family, with the support of friends, comrades and the Indigenous Social Justice Association (ISJA) started with a very emotive smoking ceremony.
Speakers remembered Ray in every aspect of his life: from his days as a union activist, to his participation in the Watch Committee, set up to monitor Aboriginal deaths in custody and breaches of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody recommendations, to his permanent campaign for justice on every Aboriginal rights issue. Ray was remembered as someone who felt a deep concern for refugees and was active in solidarity with Palestinians, Basque, Irish and many other international solidarity campaigns.
In emotional speeches, his family, the families of those who suffered deaths in custody and Aboriginal leaders remembered Jackson and spoke of the respect he generated in all the campaigns in which he participated.
One of his closest collaborators remembered the work they had done together to present ISJA’s case to the Commission Nationale Consultative des Droits de l'Homme in France that resulted in ISJA being awarded the International Human Rights prize in December 2013. Shortly after Jackson died, Macquarie University awarded him the title Doctor Honorius Causa.
ISJA expressed the difficulty of working without him, but also the need to keep fighting, together with the families of those who have died in custody, because these deaths keep happening. The way forward is to remember Ray, follow his steps, and apply all his teachings every day.
ISJA recognises there have been many achievements, such as, finally, a permanent memorial for TJ Hickey, the participation of Fighting In Resistance Equally (FIRE) in the biggest demonstrations of Aboriginal solidarity in Sydney for years, the permanent denouncing of Deaths in Custody and the work with the families based in the respect and support.
Finally, a poster design was launched of the newest Australian addition to the Celebrate People's History Poster Series, starring the one and only Ray Jackson.