What the Freedom Rites were all about?
Inspired by the Freedom Rides of the United States in 1961, a group of 29 students from the University of Sydney undertook a bus trip to a number of towns in New South Wales from 12 to 26 February 1965.
The purpose of the trip was to investigate race relations in country towns and living conditions for Aboriginal people on reserves and in the towns. This bus trip became known as the Freedom Ride.
What took place on the Freedom Rides?
The students protested, picketed, and faced violence, raising the issue of indigenous rights. They commonly stood protesting for hours at segregated areas such as pools, parks and pubs which raised a mixed reception in the country towns. Australia overwhelmingly passed a 1967 referendum removing discriminatory sections from the Australian Constitution and enabling the federal government to take direct action in Aboriginal affairs.
Charles Perkins life
Charles Perkins was born in Alice Springs; his mother was Arrente and his father Kalkadoon. He was removed from the Alice Springs Telegraph Station Aboriginal Reserve when he was 10 and educated at St Francis House, a school established by Father Percy Smith in Adelaide to educate Aboriginal boys. He trained initially as a fitter and turner but, being a gifted soccer player, he played professionally for the English club, Everton, then on his return to Australia with the Adelaide Croatian and the Sydney Pan-Hellenic Clubs.
Perkins first attended the Federal Council for Aboriginal Advancement annual conference in Brisbane in 1961. He spoke with passion about his visit to Mungana reserve where he saw a double standard in action: attractive homes for the white staff and tin shanties for the Aboriginal residents.
In 1965 Perkins, one of two Aboriginal students at the University of Sydney (the other was Gary Williams), was keen to find a way to publicise the Aboriginal cause. This led to the formation of