Browse Entries

Charles Perkins’ Freedom Ride (1965)

Alternative Names
  • Freedom Ride


1965 Charles Perkins’ Freedom Ride
In February 1965 Perkins and Reverend Ted Noffs of the Wayside Chapel organised a "Freedom Ride" with 30 white Sydney University students from the group Student Action for Aborigines (SAFA).[30] He took SAFA on a bus ride into some of NSW's most notoriously racist country towns. They were pelted with eggs and rotten fruit when they tried to desegregate the Moree swimming pool and such was the level of violent response they encountered that the hired bus driver left the tour halfway through out of fear. But the resultant publicity resounded around the world and exposed the vicious nature of Australian racism in an unprecedented way.
The action was described as, "Internationally inspired, a product of cooperation between whites and blacks committed to the same ideals, confrontationist but non-violent, the Freedom Ride was a consciousness-raising exercise that was very effective. Awakening media interest in Aboriginal affairs was, for the first time, marshalled in favour of the Black Australian cause, to the severe embarrassment of many white townspeople in rural New South Wales. All of these elements foreshadowed a pattern of protest that was to continue and expand in the 1970s and 1980s."

[Gary Foley]