Charles Perkins Print Page
A monument commemorates Charles Perkins and the Freedom Ride.
The Freedom Ride set off on the night of the 12 February 1965. Its aim was to campaign, in the country towns of New South Wales, against racial discrimination that was rife in these insular communities. In 1965 Aboriginal people were not citizens. They were dispossessed from the land, which they lived on before colonisation. They were forced to all live together on small pockets of land on the edge of towns. These places were called reserves and missions. The living conditions of these places were atrocious. There was sub-standard housing, with people living in shanties. There was no plumbing, no electricity and no amenities. Things were hard for Aboriginals on these reserves, and even harder in the towns. In town there was unbearable racism. Aboriginals did not have access to amenities, such as cafes, cinemas, theatres, hotels and swimming pools; things taken for granted today. Not only that, but there was a lot of verbal, and sometimes physical, abuse, just because they were Aboriginal.
Charles Perkins had enrolled at Sydney University in 1963, and along with Gary Williams, made up the first Aboriginal students to attend Sydney University. Charles had travelled abroad to play soccer, and in doing so had been exposed to different societal behaviour. He believed that his people deserved more, and that racial discrimination was holding them back. Thus Charles decided to confront white Australians about their treatment of Aboriginal people. To do this he decided to duplicate the United States Freedom rides, get a bus and travel rural New South Wales to protest against the segregation that was prevalent. 29 other students set off with Charles on the night of the 12 February. With their return there was greater awareness of Indigenous issues rurally. They had successfully stirred up debate on the state of Aboriginal affairs around Australia. With the press coverage they had obtained, came pressure from outside and within Australia for reform. This debate was maintained up the 1967 Referendum. The Freedom Rides have also been credited with helping end the ‘White Australia’ policy.
|Address:||Belgrave Street , Kempsey Swimming Pool, Kempsey, 2440|
|GPS Coordinates:||Lat: -31.079457|
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
|Actual Monument Dedication Date:||Friday 1st December, 2000|
IN REMEMBRANCE OF
DR. CHARLES N. PERKINS OA
FOR HIS INSPIRATIONAL WORK
A MAN WHO CHOSE TO LIVE HIS LIFE FIGHTING
FOR THE RIGHTS OF ABORIGINAL PEOPLE
WE REMEMBER HIM FOR HIS CONVICTIONS ON THE FREEDOM
RIDE THROUGHOUT N.S.W. AND IN PARTICULAR ON
FEBRUARY 27TH. 1967 AT THE KEMPSEY SWIMMING POOL.
THIS PLAQUE WAS UNVEILED ON THE FIRST DAY OF DECEMBER, 2000 BY THE PERKINS FAMILY
EILEEN LAURA PERKINS
KEITH ADAM AND RACHEL
Kempsey Shire Council