Rock against Racism

On 25th September 1982 just prior to the Commonwealth Games Land Rights protest there was a ‘Rock Against Racism’ event at Souths Football Oval in West End.

Left to right: Marlene Cummins (Black Panthers), Hone Tuwhare (Maori writer), unidentified, Janet Allison, Louise Butt (4ZZZ), and Peter Gray (Radical Times). The photo was shot at the Commonwealth Writers Festival in the lead up to the Commonwealth Games 1982.

In 1971, Marlene Cummins, was a member of the Brisbane chapter of the Black Panthers (a global Black revolutionary movement). She recounts this experience in the SBS co-produced documentary “Black Panther Woman” (52 minutes) which is told from Marlene’s perspective as the only female member. The documentary is directed by Rachel Perkins and premiered on 12 June 2014 at the Sydney Film Festival.

Marlene has been regular broadcaster on Koori Radio for many years with her popular blues show, “Marloo’s Blues“. Marlene won Broadcaster of the Year at the Deadly Awards in 2009.

Reference: Inspired by Mao Zedong‘s advice to revolutionaries in The Little Red Book, Black Panther founder, Huey Newton, called on the Panthers to “serve the people” and to make “survival programs” a priority within its branches.

The most famous of their programs was the Free Breakfast for Children Program, initially run out of an Oakland church.

The Free Breakfast For Children program was especially significant because it served as a space for educating youth about the current condition of the Black community, and the actions that the Party was taking to progress that condition. “While the children ate their meal[s], members [of the Party] taught them liberation lessons consisting of Party messages and Black history.” Through this program, the Party was able to influence young minds, and strengthen their ties to communities as well as gain widespread support for their ideologies. The breakfast program became so popular that the Panthers Party claimed to have fed twenty thousand children in the 1968-1969 school year.

Marlene is a saxophone player and blues musician (singer / song writer). She recently released a full-length album, “Koori Woman Blues” through GoSet Music.

Thnx to Peter Gray and the Radical Times Historical Archive

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