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Throughout history, racial discrimination has always been present everywhere in the world. The Stolen generation of Australia is one of many atrocities in history. The group known as the ‘stolen generation’ were all of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who were removed from their families without fair reason by the Australian government. Since the invasion of Australia when it was announced “terra nullius”, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have had to fight for some of the most basic rights. In the mid 19th century, a civil rights movement was created. The Australian movement was heavily influenced by the US Civil rights movement. The US Civil Rights movement was a very successful movement which has since heavily influenced many campaigns. The US civil rights movement still sets many standards for how all people should be treated. The US Civil Rights movement was used in many cases as a guide as to how the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should protest for their own rights, for example voting and land rights. Key events and people included in the US civil rights movement such as the freedom riders, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr and the bus boycott all inspired the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islander People of Australia to make a change and gave them ideas about how to go about it.
There were many steps in the civil rights movement that made it as successful as it became. Events such as the freedom riders grasped the attention of many people during the campaign, allowing their opinions to be heard by many. The freedom riders were a group of activists who wanted to test how effective the US Supreme Court’s decision to end racial discrimination was. Although the decision was made, segregation was still an issue. The first group consisted of seven African-Americans and six white people. When on public transport, they would sit side by side, with at least one African-American person in designated white areas. In restaurants, they ate together and ignored segregation signs. The Freedom Riders were so successful in gaining the attention of the public that they had multiple run ins with the KKK and the Police. In some cases, they were jailed. Rather than being upset by the imprisonment, the freedom riders would simply sing. In some cases, the guards were so infuriated by the singing that they released them from prison. Another key face of the civil rights movement was an African-American man named Martin Luther King Jr.
King was a spokesperson and activist who protested for equal rights. King is well known for great feats such as his famous “I Have a Dream” speech and the bus boycott. The boycott was caused after an African-American woman named Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white person. Martin Luther King then lead a meeting with a group of 18 people to discuss boycott strategies. They decided to encourage all people to stop using public transport. Carpools were organised and some taxi drivers started charging 10 cents per ride to help with the boycott. After 381 days of the boycott, on December 20, 1956, a law was finally passed allowing black and white passengers to sit anywhere on the bus. Through these events and many more, the US Civil Rights movement was a successful movement.
The US Civil Rights movement showed and encouraged Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of Australia to drive for a change. The US movement set an example to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and showed them successful strategies that gained the public’s attention and allowed them to fight for the rights they deserved. During the fight for change, a group came to be in the University of Sydney known as the Freedom Riders, inspired by the Freedom Riders of the US campaign due to their great success. The Australian freedom riders decided to tour through towns in a bus on 12 February 1965. The riders travelled through many towns in New South Wales to show the public how badly the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia were being discriminated against. They did so by exposing the many cases of discrimination throughout these towns to the public. The group was led by a man named Charles Perkins, a 29 year old man with many talents. Charles was not only an Aboriginal activist, but also a soccer player and administrator. The freedom riders aimed to reveal to the public all the horrible living conditions of the Aborigines people in these towns. An example of one of the towns they stopped in is Moree. In Moree, Aboriginals were banned from the town swimming pool. The locals protested outside the pools and were forced to let in Aboriginal children, after which they were attacked by more than 500 angry locals. The Freedom Riders, similarly to the American Freedom Riders, began gaining attention due to the atrocities in these towns. With the freedom rides and protests throughout Australia throughout the mid 20th century, Australians realised that a change needed to be made for Aboriginal rights.
The Australian Civil Rights movement made the public realise the discrimination and segregation that was directed at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The movement led to many changes that greatly improved the rights of the Aborigines people.
The Civil Rights movement was dragged out and had many ups and downs, and even today there are still some problems in society, however the Australian Civil rights movement was stilll a great success. In 1967, a referendum was held that was a big turning point for the movement. After decades of Indigenous and Non-Indigenous activism, 90% of the population of Australia voted in favour of amending two sections of the Australian Constitution. These sections were: “Section 51: The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to: …The people of any race, other than the aboriginal people in any State, for whom it is necessary to make special laws.”, and “Section 127: In reckoning the numbers of the people of the Commonwealth, or of a State or other part of the Commonwealth, aboriginal natives should not be counted.” Following the referendum, the words ‘…other than the aboriginal people in any State…” in section 51 were removed and section 127 was removed as a whole. This allowed the federal government to make laws for Indigenous rights and allowed Indigenous people to be included in the census. These are just some of many changes caused by the great success that was the Australian civil rights movement.
With the help of inspiration from the American Civil Rights movement as guidance, the Australian civil rights movement was a great success. The way Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were treated was unacceptable and the US movement encouraged the Australian people to fight for what was right in their community. The movement had many ups and downs but was eventually successful. Due to the influence from the US movement, the Australian Civi rights movement succeeded in getting the attention of the public, expressing their opinions and demanding change.
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