chapter  9
Black Power and white solidarity
The Action Conference on Racism and Education, Brisbane 1972
ByLewis d’Avigdor
Pages 20

On Friday 28 January 1972, 350 white, predominantly student activists, and 50 Aboriginal activists gathered at the Action Conference on Racism and Education, which would run for six days at the University of Queensland. On the opening night, Aboriginal activists seized control over the Conference proceedings. This chapter takes the assertion of black control as its central concern, revealing the ways in which Black Power activists confronted racism and paternalism, not only from the state and society writ large, but more insidiously, from their white allies on the New Left. Black Power activists posed a challenge to the white New Left and revealed the limits of their radicalism. Aside from the issue of Black leadership, debates at the Conference engaged the Marxist privileging of class over race as the analytical category through which to understand ongoing Aboriginal dispossession, as well as the role that Women’s Liberation could play in the Black Power movement. This chapter provides an account of the emergence of the Aboriginal Black Power movement, which is framed as a self-conscious attempt to decolonise the settler-state. It seeks to recover the political structure of this moment as well as the possibilities and limits of black and white solidarity.