Charles Perkins Essay

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Hi, my name is Charles Perkins and today I would just like to talk specifically about the Freedom Rides. In 1962 I was one of only two aboriginal students at the Sydney University. I was keen to find a way to publicise the Aboriginal cause and in 1965, along with other student activists, formed the Student Action for Aborigines (or SAFA as we called it). We decided to organise a bus tour of regional New South Wales towns to expose the discrimination in the use of halls, swimming pools, hotels and RSL clubs. So with 30 other students and a bus driver we hit the road. We were a motley crew made up of Communist Party members, atheists. Christians and only two aboriginals, me being one of them. We called it the SAFA Bus Trip but it later became known as the Freedom Ride. We held peaceful demonstrations in many country towns but the two standout towns that gained the most publicity were Moree and Walgett. In Moree our focus was on the swimming pool. The Moree Council had ruled that the swimming pool was to be kept for whites only. Firstly we protested outside Council chambers then by taking Aboriginal children to the pool and insisting they be allowed in. As we stood at the turnstile of the swimming pool demanding that black children be allowed in we were spat at, assaulted and menaced by a crowd. Eventually the council and the pool management reversed the ban and a group of aboriginal kids were allowed to swim in the pool. Feeling good about our success we left Moree and went on to Lismore however that night in Lismore we were told the Council had taken back the offer so we decided to go back the next day. For more than three hours we tried to get aboriginal kids into that pool but to no avail. In the end we were forced to retreat and covered with rotten fruit and eggs, our bus was escorted out of town by police. Our driver resigned but the

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