50 Years and Counting

Blog written by Kaylah Tyson

On the 27th of May we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum otherwise known as the record breaking ‘yes’ vote to count Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the census for the first time. The State Library of Queensland hosted a community day to commemorate this important milestone.

SLQ was buzzing with energy early on as Reconciliation Queensland’s Defying Boundaries Walk from Spring Hill to arriving with balloons and banners at Maiwar Green. It was great that we could coordinate the times so walkers could stay for Dr Chelsea Bond’s wonderful speech.

Songwoman Maroochy Barambah opening the event with a Blessing of Country. Photo by Lewis James Media.

(L to R) SLQ State Librarian and CEO Vicki McDonald, Dr. Chelsea Bond and Minister Leeanne Enoch at the 50 Years and Counting keynote address. Photo by Lewis James Media.

Formal proceedings began with a Welcome to Country by Aunty Maroochy Barambah who also shared personal accounts of life before and after the ‘yes’ vote. This set the scene for MC Vicki McDonald (State Librarian and CEO) and Minister Enoch who both spoke passionately about the importance of this day and how their families remember that time. Once Minister Enoch officially launched the day, Dr. Chelsea Bond delivered a powerful keynote address to the auditorium and viewers who tuned in via the live stream. The thought-provoking keynote raised viewpoints on the truth about race and brought  the in-house audience to their feet upon ending.  Read a snippet of that speech here.

Freedom Then, Freedom Now curator Peter Sprearritt guiding invited guests around the newly opened exhibition. Photo by Lewis James Media.

kuril dhagun Exhibition Program Officer Katina Davidson taking guests on a guided tour of Don’t Just Count Us, Let Us Count! Photo by Lewis James Media.

The day continued with guided curator tours of SLQ’s current exhibitions; Freedom Then, Freedom Now and Don’t Just Count Us, Let Us Count! This ran parallel to the Black Screen viewings in Richard Bell’s Tent Embassy on Maiwar Green which included; The Redfern Story, My Three Families and Fighter.

‘Black Screen’ screenings in Richard Bell’s Tent Embassy. Photo by Lewis James Media.

Guests listening to Aunty Mary Graham’s speech inside Richard Bell’s Tent Embassy. Photo by Lewis James Media.

With the commemorative activities well under way, Richard Bell’s Tent Embassy began to fill up with enthusiastic members of the community ready to engage with Dr Mary Graham, Boe Spearim and MC Triks who each sparked lively conversations about topics including the Bringing Them Home Report, Education, Sovereignty, Aboriginal Passports, Black Militancy and Activism through the Arts.

Bogaine Spearim delivering his speech in the Tent Embassy. Photo by Lewis James Media.

It was a wonderful day of acknowledging history