After WW2, the United States under President Roosevelt, looked to ensure that human rights abuses and the horrors of war could be brought to and end. The United Nations was formed in October 1945, with 50 nations agreeing to its charter, with its goal to ensure peaceful resolution of conflict, improved standards of living for the poorest nations, and freedom from any forms of government or social abuse. A priority was to agree to a Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This detailed document was finally ratified by nation states in December 1948. Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr Evatt, played a significant role.

  • Article 1. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

In this unit you will be comparing the lives of 3 significant political campaigners, who fought to change the rights and freedoms of black people in their different countries. You will compare the different ways in which African Americans,black South Africans and Australian Aboriginals experienced discrimination and restricted freedoms. The 3 famous campaigners were:
1. Martin Luther King a Baptist pastor and leader in the Civil Rights Movement and NAACP.

2. Nelson Mandela an activist and leader in the ANC, jailed for terrorism, led the movement to democracy and reconciliation as President of South Africa.
O' Malley is a South African journalist who has compliled many documents tracing the transition from Apartheid to democracy. Look for sources here. Also, for depth studies and sources try the Mandela Foundation or this history site.

This 30 minute film [youtube] compares segregation in the 1950s and 60s in USA and Sth Africa.

3. Charles Perkins - one of many Aboriginal campaigners in the 20th Century.
Info about the Freedom Ride and here too; a great range of sources provided by Prof Anne Curthoys, one of the riders. Watch this episode of "Living BLack" SBS - dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Ride.
+ extensive interview transcripts

These three men were all active during the 1950s/60s, and you will look at the similarities and differences between their approaches.
You will also consider what they achieved - what actually changed as a result of their efforts.

Firstly, research and compare the experiences of racial discrimination in the United States, South Africa and Australia.
Next consider the campaigns to bring about change and reform - look at how the strategies varied in each country, and the varying reaction by white citizens and governments.
Finally, compare what was achieved in each nation and what progress was made.


2. South Africa:
Situation facing black people
Southern States had "Jim Crow" laws enforcing separation of "whites and coloreds" - in restaurants, on public transport, schools and even restrictions on socialising and marriage, contravening Federal laws.
Negros found it hard to register to vote.
Imposed in 1948 by the Nationalist Party - a rigid system based on race and restriction, affecting work, education and place of residence.
Historysearch for key people and events
Before the 1950s the states had Protection Boards which controlled Aboriginal life on reserves and missions. Assimilation [1950s]was a policy seen as being more progressive, encouraging Aboriginals to integrate into mainstream society. However it was at the cost of their culture and identity. In reality, rural towns had unofficial segregation.
Pre-1960s policies
Sources from the Victorian Branch of FCAATSI
Timeline of rights and freedoms

Read the policy here
What strategies were used to bring about change
Leader of Civil Rights Movement
Non-violent protest/marches
Speeches and writing - most famous "I have a dream"
Freedom Ride
Protest about voting rights - march on Selma
Nelson Mandela

Before jail, led the ANC
Tried non-violent protest, strikes
After the Sharpesville massacre,he turned formed the Spear of the Nation, promoting sabotage and violent acts anti-govt action.
Jailed for treason 1964
Wrote many articles from Jail
International pressure led to his release. Became president - chose reconciliation

Simple animation
Aboriginal groups had used many strategies to improve their rights and living conditions during the first half of the 20th Century. In the 1950s the various groups united to form FCAATSI; this group lobbied Parliament and led the campaign for change.
The Freedom Ride of 1965 was led by students from Sydney University, plus supporters [SAFA]. A key leader was Perkins. This event

helped change mainstream white attitudes and gain a YES vote in the '67 referendum. Perkins was a member of FCAATSI and one of leaders of the successful Freedom Ride

/subjects/perkins/interview4.html detailed transcript of an interview for tv
Summary - short bio
Freedom ride 25 minute for SBS Living Black, 50th anniversary
MLK - succeeds in gaining national support for his campaign with both blacks and whites, culminating in the March on Washington in 1963

The Federal Govt signing a new Civil Rights Act - in 1964
Won Nobel Peace Prize
Continued to lead campaigns for improved equality - in 1965 his campaign to improve access to voting for blacks led to the Voting Rights Act

- shot 1968 by a white racist
While in jail he gained great support from around the world for his campaign
He convinces the white government under President De Klerk to end apartheid and have open elections.
He becomes President leading ANC to power.
He leads a process of RECONCILIATION
The Freedom Ride succeeded in raising awareness in the white community and support for his ideas.
Proof is the 90% yes vote in the
1967 referendum
Perkins was a successful political leader
at a time of great progress in the status of Aboriginal people.
He continued to work for improved outcomes and land rights for many years.