Freedom Ride solidarity night

February 16, 2005

BRISBANE — The new wave of struggle for Aboriginal rights in Australia that began in the 1960s was launched by the Freedom Ride led by Charlie Perkins in February 1965, Murri activist Sam Watson told a solidarity night at the Jagera Centre, sponsored by Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation, on February 11.

"From a bus full of students from Sydney, the actions that followed in Walgett, Moree and elsewhere in country NSW, caused a tidal wave of demands for Aboriginal rights, which swept the country over succeeding years.

"Blacks couldn't enter hotel bars, couldn't attend council swimming pools and had to sit in the front rows of the cinemas in these towns. We still have deep racism in rural areas and cities in Australia.

"The Murri political struggles of later years could not have succeeded without the pioneering role of Uncle Charlie Perkins and those white students."

He expressed solidarity with the new Freedom Ride, which set off on the same route, from Sydney on February 12. "The battle goes on", Watson said.

Jim McIlroy

From Green Left Weekly, February 16, 2005.
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