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Understanding The Civil Rights Movement: America Vs. Australia

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Understanding The Civil Rights Movement: America Vs. Australia essay

Compare the US and Australian civil rights movements. How similar were these movements?

The American Civil Rights Movement, from 1955 to 1968, was a time of revelational growth and change in America. This time of change was a time of hurt for all people and was fought with great passion by both the Americans and the African-Americans. The Australian Civil Rights Movement began after the American Movement, beginning in 1957 and ending in 1967. Both movements fought for the rights and freedoms of the marginalized through various methods including civil disobedience and freedom rides. However, the American Civil Rights Movement used warfare initiated by the African-Americans, which resulted in the Civil War, while Australia used freedom rides and civil disobedience. The results of the Freedom Rides from both countries was different as the African-Americans had higher quality weaponry for use when fighting.

The American and Australian Civil Rights Movements were similar in that they both fought for the rights and freedoms of the Indigenous population of that country. The American Civil Rights Movement was a movement that began when “the modern civil rights movement… Rosa Parks, an African-American woman, was arrested for refusing to move to the back of the bus in Montgomery, Alabama” (Washington, 2017) on December 1, 1955. Rosa Parks, a Native American, was the first activist to fight for her rights, also beginning the first freedom ride. Parks influenced many Americans who believed in anti-slavery and equal rights for all, helping them to stand up for the beliefs they had for African-Americans.

The American Civil Rights movement began before the Australian Civil Rights movement and Rosa Parks, who essentially began the American Civil Rights Movement, is known as “the mother of the civil rights movement”. The Australian Civil rights movement began when “the students planned to draw public attention to the poor state of Aboriginal health, education and housing.” (, 2014). The students did this in order to “help to lessen the socially discriminatory barriers” (, 2014) and create equal opportunities for all individuals, particularly the marginalized in this case. Although the American and Australian Civil Rights movements were fought at different times, they were similar in the motive behind the movements as they were both about the equality for all individuals through similar methods.

Both the African-American and Australian Indigenous people used freedom rides to publicise and fight for their rights and freedoms. Australia used freedom rides to stand up for their beliefs and America used this also, but they relied more on violence to portray the severity of the issue. The African-Americans used freedom rides many times; however, the Australians only had one main one. May 4th 1961 was the first African-American freedom ride with thirteen both black and white civil rights activists launching the Freedom Rides. The Freedom rides were “a series of bus trips through the American South to protest segregation in interstate bus terminals” (Washington, 2017) with the purpose of integrating public facilities such as restrooms and lunch counters.

Throughout the next four months after the first freedom ride, “several hundred Freedom Riders engaged in similar actions… [and finished when] the Interstate Commerce Commission issued regulations prohibiting segregation in bus and train stations nationwide.” (Washington, 2017). In Australia, there was only one freedom ride in 1965 that included “a group of University of Sydney students” with a threefold purpose to draw “attention to the poor state of Aboriginal health, education and housing. They hoped to point out and help to lessen the socially discriminatory barriers which existed between Aboriginal and white residents. And they also wished to encourage and support Aboriginal people themselves to resist discrimination.” (, 2014). The American and Australian Civil Rights Movements were different in the amount of Freedom Rides that each movement had and the objectives that each freedom ride had behind it; however, the movements were similar in that they both used a similar method to convey and raise awareness to the public.

The method in which the movement was communicated between the Americans and the African-Americans, and Australians and the Indigenous people was different throughout both Civil Rights Movements. The Australian Civil Rights Movement was one which was very vocal in their publicity and less violence-focused than the American Movement. The 1961 African-American Freedom Ride that traveled to Alabama had “Freedom Riders were attacked and badly beaten, and Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) called the ride off.” (, 2017) whereas the Australian Freedom Ride had a positive outcome with no one arrested or beaten. Due to the Aboriginal Australians’ lack of resources to fight, they did not result to warfare to resolve the social problem of inequality. However, this is different to the African-Americans, as the African-Americans were used as slaves so they knew how to build, make and use weaponry, potentially leading to war. The difference of outcomes between the African-American Civil Rights Movement and the Australian Civil Rights Movement demonstrates that the resources that were available to the African-Americans was of a lot more violent nature than what was available to the Indigenous Australians.

To a large extent, the US Civil Rights Movement and the Australian Civil Rights Movement were similar in the motive behind the movements, as they were both fighting for the equality the segregated and marginalized, using various methods despite being fought at different times. The US Civil Rights Movement was different to the Australian Civil Rights Movement in the way the Freedom Rides have fought and the different objectives that the Freedom Rides had behind them. However, the method in which both movements used was very similar. Because of the different outcomes from the Freedom Rides in America and the Freedom Ride in Australia, it is clear that the resources in Australia were of a lower quality and standard, and therefore meant that the Australians did not resort to violence during the movement. Finally, the US and Australian Civil Rights Movements were very similar as they shared motive and methods used in order to gain equality.

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Understanding the Civil Rights Movement: America Vs. Australia. (2019, April 26). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 29, 2022, from
“Understanding the Civil Rights Movement: America Vs. Australia.” GradesFixer, 26 Apr. 2019,
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