Thursday, January 7, 2010: 3:00 PM
Edward D (Hyatt)
The 1961 American Freedom Rides have attracted sustained scholarly scrutiny over the past five decades in the United States. While the literature on this important aspect of the civil rights movement is well developed in the American context, there is a broader dimension to this critical historical moment that needs to be explored further in an international context. In 1965, for example, Indigenous Australians led by Charles Perkins were inspired by and sought to apply the strategies of the American Freedom Rides in pursuit of a similar local objective: the desegregation of public facilities in the Australian state of New South Wales. This episode in Australian history has featured only marginally in Australian historiography, exemplified in Ann Curthoys’ book Freedom Ride
. However, no historian to date has made this transnational phenomenon a central focus of their study.
This paper seeks to uncover and explicate the transnational linkages between the American Freedom Rides and its Australian parallel four years later. In so doing, it will not only identify the obvious continuities brought out by comparative-transnational analysis, but also recognize the discontinuities colored by the specifics of local context.