Australia Day (William Cooper)

William Cooper (18611941) was a Koorie man of the Yorta Yorta people. He was selfeducated and modestly selfeffacing in his pursuit of aboriginal representation in the new Federal Parliament; endlessly petitioning King George V for such a motion. Cooper moved to Footscray during his late adult life, where he joined the Australian Workers Union and became further entrenched in indigenous politics. He represented rural Victorian aborigines in fighting for assistance (which was hitherto denied them), during the drought and depression of the 1920s. His most poignant legacy, though, was his repugnance to an event planned in Sydney1938 to reenact the January 26, 1788 arrival of The First Fleet, and raising of the Union Jack at Sydney Cove. All aboriginal associations protested the event and Cooper decried January 26 as aday of mourning“. This declaration was the foundation for a tradition of aboriginal protest against what is now popular as Australia Day. Cooper currently lays deceased in an unmarked grave near the Barmah Forest; a tragic sarcasm to the cause that he championed.

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