The Jackson family and Indigenous Social Justice Association (ISJA) Sydney held a gathering on the first anniversary of the passing of Ray Jackson to Remember Ray FKJ (For Koori Justice).
Friends, comrades and supporters came together on April 23 at The Settlement, Darlington, to share a barbecue, music and Jackson's activist legacy in the fight for sovereignty, treaty and social justice. He would have loved the name of the band that played: Dispossessed.
Jackson had a gift for uniting people for the common good of the cause. Those looking for help in the fight for justice, to stop all deaths in custody, the vulnerable, the dispossessed, the broken, the segregated and the forgotten approached him, and were never turned away.
Jackson helped to change the world by changing people. He welcomed everyone to the table and gave everyone a second chance. This gathering was also a chance to meet many of those who were lucky to learn from a true comrade and a Wiradjuri leader.
Jackson had a lifetime of achievements. He was co-founder of the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee and co-founder and first president of ISJA Sydney. He was involved in several organisations supporting prisoners, particularly the Community Restorative Centre. He was a Socialist Alliance candidate and wrote for several publications, including The Workers Bush Telegraph, Green Left Weekly and several Aboriginal rights publications.
In 2013, the French Human Rights Committee awarded Jackson and ISJA Sydney the French Human Rights medal, Prix des Droits de l'Homme de la Republique Francaise, for his long campaign to stop all deaths in custody. He was awarded a Macquarie University Posthumous Honorary Doctorate of Letters on April 13 for a lifetime of activism for the human rights of all people.
In spite of these honours, Jackson was neither a career politician nor an academic. He was an Aboriginal leader, a mentor, always encouraging others with ideas of social justice to protest and organise the struggle everywhere and by any means possible.
ISJA Sydney activist Raul Bassi said: “The only way forward is to join everyone in the struggle for social justice. We have to build a strong movement capable of doing the many things that Ray Jackson used to do. We have no alternative but to advance on the road Ray was committed to, for real justice, real land rights, real treaties and self-determination.”
Jackson encouraged everyone to match their grievances, their deaths in custody injustices and their police brutality experiences with the actions needed to resolve them. He urged everyone to put their anger into organised action to fight for sovereignty, treaty and social justice.
But he also inspired people to bring to the fight their curiosity to learn more, their courage, determination and love, their ability to organise protests, and their willingness to help the families and the victims of deaths in custody and all the other social justice issues that plague our island continent.
Ray Jackson is sorely missed.