In February 1965 a group of University of Sydney students organised a bus tour of western and coastal New South Wales towns.
Their purpose was threefold. The students planned to draw public attention to the poor state of Aboriginal health, education and housing.
They hoped to point out and help to lessen the socially discriminatory barriers which existed between Aboriginal and white residents. And they also wished to encourage and support Aboriginal people themselves to resist discrimination. The students had formed into a body called Student Action for Aborigines (SAFA).
Charles Perkins, an Arrente man born in Alice Springs, who was a third year arts student at the university, was elected president of SAFA.
The group included Ann Curthoys who would later write a history of these events, Jim Spigelman who would later become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales and Darce Cassidy, an arts student who was also a part-time reporter for the ABC.
In 1964 a University of Sydney protest against racial segregation in the United States had brought comments from members of the public urging students to look to their own backyard if they wanted to draw attention to racial discrimination.
This led to the planning of a fact-finding trip to western New South Wales towns so students could see for themselves the conditions of life for Aboriginal people.
Where the Freedom Ride went
The Freedom Ride, as it came to be called, included visits to Walgett, Gulargambone, Kempsey, Bowraville and Moree. Students were shocked at the living conditions which Aboriginal people endured outside the towns.
In the towns Aboriginal people were routinely barred from clubs, swimming pools and cafes.
They were frequently refused service in shops and refused drinks in hotels.
The students demonstrated against racial discrimination practised at the Walgett Returned Services League, the Moree Baths, the Kempsey Baths and the Boraville picture theatre.
They not only challenged these practices, but they ensured that reports of their demonstrations and local townspeople’s hostile responses were available for news broadcasts on radio and television.
Outside Walgett Jim Spigelman trained his home movie camera on the hostile convoy of cars which followed the bus out of town at night and ran it off the road.
Darce Cassidy recorded the angry conversations and filed a report to the ABC.
Captured on tape was the vice-president of the Walgett Returned Service League Club who said he would never allow an Aboriginal to become a member.
Such evidence was beamed into the living rooms of Australians with the evening news.
It exposed an endemic racism. Film footage shocked city viewers, adding to the mounting pressure on the government.
Continue on via Freedom Ride, 1965.
Mexico City, Mexico
A woman takes part in a march to mark the 29th month since the disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa College Raul Isidro Burgos in the state of Guerrero.
Image Credit: Photograph by Carlos Jasso/Reuters.
See more images via Best photos of the day: A Mexican demo and meat ice-cream | News | The Guardian
Robert Owen, the son of a saddler and ironmonger from Newtown in Wales, was born on 14th May, 1771.
Robert was an intelligent boy who did very well at his local school, but at the age of ten, his father sent him to work in a large drapers in Stamford, Lincolnshire.
After spending three years in Stamford, Robert moved to a drapers in London. This job lasted until 1787 and now aged sixteen, Robert found work at a large wholesale and retail drapery business in Manchester.
It was while Owen was working in Manchester that he heard about the success Richard Arkwright was having with his textile factory in Cromford. Robert was quick to see the potential of this way of manufacturing cloth and although he was only nineteen years old, borrowed £100 and set up a business as a manufacturer of spinning mules with John Jones, an engineer.
In 1792 the partnership with Jones came to an end and Owen found work as a manager of Peter Drinkwater’s large spinning factory in Manchester.
As manager of Drinkwater’s factory, Owen met a lot of businessmen involved in the textile industry. This included David Dale, the owner of Chorton Twist Company in New Lanark, Scotland, the largest cotton-spinning business in Britain. The two men became close friends and in 1799 Robert married Dale’s daughter, Caroline.
With the financial support of several businessmen from Manchester, Owen purchased Dale’s four textile factories in New Lanark for £60,000. Under Owen’s control, the Chorton Twist Company expanded rapidly.
However, Robert Owen was not only concerned with making money, he was also interested in creating a new type of community at New Lanark. Owen believed that a person’s character is formed by the effects of their environment. Owen was convinced that if he created the right environment, he could produce rational, good and humane people.
Owen argued that people were naturally good but they were corrupted by the harsh way they were treated. For example, Owen was a strong opponent of physical punishment in schools and factories and immediately banned its use in New Lanark.
New Lanark Cotton Mills.
David Dale had originally built a large number of houses close to his factories in New Lanark. By the time Owen arrived, over 2,000 people lived in New Lanark village.
One of the first decisions he took when he became owner of New Lanark was to order the building of a school.
Owen was convinced that education was crucially important in developing the type of person he wanted.
The journalist, George Holyoake, became a great supporter of Owen’s work in New Lanark: “At New Lanark he virtually or indirectly supplied to his workpeople, with splendid munificence and practical judgment, all the conditions which gave dignity to labour…. Co-operation as a form of social amelioration and of profit existed in an intermittent way before New Lanark; but it was the advantages of the stores Owen incited that was the beginning of working-class co-operation.
His followers intended the store to be a means of raising the industrious class, but many think of it now merely as a means of serving themselves.
Still, the nobler portion are true to the earlier ideal of dividing profits in store and workshop, of rendering the members self-helping, intelligent, honest, and generous, and abating, if not superseding competition and meanness.”
Read more via Robert Owen : Biography.
Image: Marching though Sydney streets on International Womens Day, 2011.
Many people choose to mark this day as one of celebration of the progress that women have achieved towards equality.
We should all take a moment to reconfirm our solidarity – and the Australian Manufacturing Worker’s Union (AMWU) solidarity – towards the struggle for true equality for women.
Image: German Socialist and Women’s Rights activist Clara Zetkin (1857-1933)
Clara Zetkin campaigned for an international day to support women’s rights.
International women’s day was formed out of the struggle, resistance and action of working women around the world, born out of the strikes of women trade unionists in the garment district of New York, and the socialist uprisings of women in Europe.
We know that one of the core issues we must fight to address today is the lack of women’s access to economic power and economic equality.
Women still only earn 70 cents to the dollar to men – and it will be 170 years to affect the gender pay gap at the current rate.
Women still only retire with half the superannuation of men and 1 in 3 women retire with no super at all.
And in Australia today, although women account for only 35% of full time employment, in January 80% of full time jobs lost were women’s.
We know that addressing women’s economic inequality would not only lift women out of poverty and lead to a more equal society, it also helps to address our appalling rates of domestic violence – giving women the economic power and security to be able to leave violent relationships.
That’s why our domestic violence leave clause campaign is so important, and why the AMWU is prioritising this struggle.
Australian women – particularly of the trade union movement – have always been at the forefront of women’s struggle for equality.
The AMWU is pleased that a week after International Women’s Day we will see the first female head of the ACTU officially elected.
In our union, we are constantly working to both improve the lives of women and work, but also improve women’s role in our own organisation.
We are not perfect, but continue to struggle, and I pay tribute to the many sisters past and present who have led the way for our women leaders of tomorrow.
I encourage all members to attend International Women’s Day marches being organised around Australia.
The former transport union official Frederick Blake, recalled: “When the Dagenham girls came down to see Barbara Castle [then employment minister] in 1968 I was asked to sit in a separate room because she wanted to see them on their own, which is fair enough.”
Mr Blake was described by newspapers at the time of the strike as “the leader of the new suffragettes”.
“Although I was in charge of the union for the Ford factory I stayed in the background because I didn’t want people to think that a man was leading the women,” he added. “I was asked by the bosses to tell them to go back to work so we could keep negotiating, but I wouldn’t do that until we had a good settlement because there were men doing the same job and getting paid far more. It wasn’t fair.”
Mr Blake explained that he was an advocate of women’s rights long before the 1968 strike that made history: “When I came home after fighting in Burma in the Second World War and saw the damage that the bombs had done to the country, I thought,
‘Why don’t the women get medals for what they’ve had to put up with, too?’ That’s what first made me think about equality.”