Freedom Ride Essay

631 words - 3 pages

In February 1965 a fourteen day Greyhound bus tour was organised by Charles Perkins, an Aboriginal Civil Rights Activist and the first indigenous man to graduate from Sydney University, alongside a group of about twenty-eight Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal university students to coastal and Western New South Wales. The main idea behind the trip was to advertise and improve the arising segregation problems which led to the discrimination and vilification of the local Aboriginal people. The Freedom Ride addressed these issues through picketing, protesting and conducting surveys and interviews. Even though it was a small protest in size it was a significant event in the Aboriginal Civil Rights Movement and helped to contribute to the 1967 referendum.
Along with other locations, the North Western New South Wales towns of Walgett and Moree were investigated by the Freedom Riders due to being known as racist areas. They participated in ...view middle of the document...

From the results it was concluded that the majority of the Non-Aboriginal people had the understanding that the way they were treating the Aboriginals was not of a segregatory or a discriminative nature and that the Aboriginal people felt like strangers in their own town but did not want to cause any trouble. The results also showed the problem areas in the community such as housing, health, education, employment and income. Overall the surveying and interviewing showed that the problems did exist but the actual effectiveness from it was limited as the issues were not tended to until after the 1967 referendum.
The media played a vital part in the Freedom Ride as it expanded the campaign’s messages of demolishing the gap in equity and Aboriginal Civil Rights. Using the videos and voice recordings that the student and Charles Perkins had gathered along the way newspapers, radio stations and television companies hit everybody with the hard truth about what was actually going on in these towns. At the time African American activism was raging in the United States so it wasn’t such an unquestionable thing when an article about the Freedom Ride was published in the New York Times. Charles had actually spoken out about the media’s support to a crowd of 200 people who attended the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders (FCAATSI) meeting in Canberra 1965.
Although a small protest in size, towards the end of the campaign a lot of attention was created about Aboriginal discrimination and prejudice. In hindsight, the campaign could have been made a lot better if they had visited more locations across different Australian states. There have been many racial disputes and disagreements since this period in time it is safe to say that what Charles Perkins and the students from the University of Sydney did was a crucial step in making Australia what it is today. Charles Perkins not only closed the gap between racial inequality, he, being an Aboriginal man himself, was able to truly connect with the traditional owners of this land and through his commitment and devotion changed this lives of past, present and future Aboriginals in Australia.

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