During the 1970s an important alliance was built between radical Indigenous activists and the left wing of the workers movement in Australia. In Wee Waa, Black Power activists helped organise a powerful strike of Aboriginal cotton chippers that gained the support of white urban trade unionists. Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal members of the Builders’ Labourers Federation created a culture of solidarity and united working class struggle in the inner city of Sydney, and rallied to support land rights. Socialists on the campuses and in the workplaces converged on Canberra to defend the Aboriginal Tent Embassy from police repression.
This talk will uncover the connection between the upsurge of working class militancy and Indigenous activism during the 1970s, a connection often overlooked by contemporary historians, and explore how issues of class and race are deeply intertwined in Australian society.
Jordan Humphreys is a member of the editorial committee of the Marxist Left Review and has written about the history of the Australian socialist left, the workers’ movement and the fight for Indigenous rights, and contemporary debates about Indigenous politics. He is currently working on Indigenous Liberation & Socialism, forthcoming from Redflag books.