Fight for Liberty and Freedom

The origins of Australian Aboriginal activism

Aboriginal Studies Press
John Maynard
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Opposition to the British colonisation of Australia did not spring from the Mabo decision or the Native Title Act, nor was it born in the vibrant 1960s which culminated in the famous Aboriginal tent embassy in 1972.

Rather, the first politically organised and united all-Aboriginal activist group was the Australian Aboriginal Progressive Association (AAPA), begun in 1924 under the leadership of Frederick Maynard.

For the first time Aboriginal people voiced their disapproval in public in a well-organised way. They opened offices in Sydney, held street rallies, conducted public meetings, gained newspaper coverage, wrote letters and petitions to Government at all levels, and collaborated with the international black labour movement. The AAPA’s demands still resonate today. They centred on Aboriginal rights to land, stopping Aboriginal children being taken from their families, the acquisition of citizenship rights, and defending a distinct Aboriginal cultural identity.

This form of resistance and organised action has now endured for more than 100 years. In this exploration of the life and times of his grandfather, John Maynard uncovers the AAPA’s invaluable legacy.

Contributor Bio

John Maynard is a Worimi historian, researcher and commentator from the Port Stephens region of New South Wales. He has worked with urban, rural and remote Aboriginal communities. His previous 15 books explore Aboriginal political and social history, and Australian race relations and include Aboriginal Stars of the Turf, Fight for Liberty and Freedom, The Aboriginal Soccer Tribe, Aborigines and the Sport of Kings, True Light and Shade Living with the Locals and Socceroos a World Cup Odyssey Vol 1 & 2. He has held several major positions and served on prominent organisations and committees, including Deputy Chair of the Executive Committee of the Australian Historical Association. He was the recipient of the Aboriginal History (Australian National University) Stanner Fellowship 1996, and the New South Wales Premier’s Indigenous History Fellow 2003, University of Newcastle Researcher of the Year 2008 and 2012. He is a member of the Australian Social Sciences Academy and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.

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