PIONEERING Wiradjuri activist Bill (William) Ferguson is back in town and standing tall upon his iconic soapbox, proudly exuding his spirit for all eternity, and all Australians.
Along with other Aboriginal activists of the time, Ferguson was a protector of his Country and people. He lobbied relentlessly for national Aboriginal policy and rights reformation and in June 1937, fed up with the lack of progress of Aboriginal rights recognition by the government, Ferguson launched the Aborigines Progressive Association (APA) in Dubbo, NSW.
Objectives of the APA aimed to secure full citizenship rights for Aboriginal people and repeal any applicable restrictive legislation imposed on them. Ferguson examined and studied government proposals, policy and legislation concerning Aboriginal people with the hope of coming together with the government to formulate policies for the betterment of Aboriginal people.
While some white people spent Australia Day in 1938 celebrating the sesquicentenary of colonisation, Ferguson and other Aboriginal activists, including William Cooper, spent this day mourning the invasion of, and destruction to their culture, community and Country. To many Aboriginal people, ‘Australia Day’ became known as the Day of Mourning.
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