It was exciting to see on the 7:30 Report last night a kind of follow-up to last Sunday’s sermon for Aboriginal Sunday.
The story interviewed three descendants of the activists who organised the Day of Mourning protests in Sydney in 1938; Suzanne Ingram, granddaughter of Louise Ingram (shown in the photograph carrying her daughter, Olive), Anny Durett, granddaughter of Pearl Gibbs (who I spoke about on Sunday) and John Maynard, the grandson of Fred Maynard.
It highlighted the courage of that small protest group who not only broke the laws that prevented Aboriginal people from gathering but chose to do so at the centre of Sydney’s celebrations marking 150 years since the arrival of the First Fleet.
Looking at the old news reel of the day’s events – the re-enactment of the arrival of Captain Cook (Aboriginal people living in Sydney refused to be part of this re-enactment, so Aboriginal men from Menindee in western New South Wales were brought to the event. They were told to run up the beach away from the British even that this was not what really happened.), the 120 motorised floats that celebrated different aspects of life in Australia, the thousands of people in the crowd – I am amazed this small group were not deterred.
But as I listened to Anny Druett reading (on the video) the ‘resolution of indignation’ the protestors passed on that day, I realised that despite being a tiny group of protestors, their voice has continued and reverberated – unlike all the other speeches made on that day:
‘WE, representing THE ABORIGINES OF AUSTRALIA, assembled in conference at the Australian Hall, Sydney, on the 26th day of January, 1938, this being the 150th Anniversary of the Whiteman’s seizure of our country, HEREBY MAKE PROTEST against the callous treatment of our people by the whitemen during the past 150 years, AND WE APPEAL to the Australian nation of today to make new laws for the education and care of Aborigines, we ask for a new policy which will raise our people TO FULL CITIZEN STATUS and EQUALITY WITHIN THE COMMUNITY.’
What was the Martin Luther King Jr quote that was read, as part of our service, last Sunday? “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
If you missed last night’s 7:30 Report – you can watch it here – https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-01-24/how-the-1938-day-of-mourning-protest-still/101889254
It also struck me, watching the story last night, that the movement for Aboriginal rights from 1938 up until the 1967 referendum was heavily assisted and supported by churches; that we – as Anny Druett says in the 7:30 Report story – have an opportunity to honour the memory and the legacy of our Christian elders as we work to address Aboriginal disadvantage and advocate for an Aboriginal voice.
Last Sunday, I invited people to take action, drawing on the resources provided by Common Grace, to promote the Voice to Parliament. If you would like to be part of a group at Canberra Baptist doing this, please speak to me. Feel free to share the Voice & Justice 2023 Pledge on your social media.
One of our Bible readings in the Morning Prayer group (that we will hear again on Sunday) was 1 Corinthians 1:27-28:
“God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are…”
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
Amen, amen, it shall be so!