Charles Perkins was born in 1936 behind an old telegraph station in Alice Springs, Australia. Charles was the son of an aboriginal father and a European mother. He wasn??™t part of the ???stolen generation???, because he was not forcibly removed from his family like the other aboriginals. His mother gave permission to spend his childhood and adolescence away from his family, in St Francis House, a boy??™s home in Adelaide, which educated aboriginal boys. Perkins had an unhappy childhood as he suffered from racial discrimination and was excluded from normal social activity.
Charles was a very skilled soccer player and travelled to England and played professional soccer from 1957 to 1960 for a variety of clubs. Charles then returned to Australia to coach a local Adelaide team where he also became vice- president of the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aboriginals. Perkins then moved to Sydney in 1963 and became the captain and coach of Pan-Hellenic (now known as Sydney Olympic) in New South Wales State League.
While in Sydney in 1963 Charles also began to study at the Sydney University, where he was a founding member of Student Action for Aboriginals (SAFA).He later became the president and graduated in 1965 with a Bachelor of Arts. He was the first Indigenous Australian to graduate from tertiary education in Australia.
After he finished his degree in 1965 Charles Perkins led the Student Action for Aborigines group on the first Freedom Ride, a bus trip designed to protest and bring to attention to the racial discrimination that was rife in rural communities. Most aboriginals were made to live on the outskirts of town, in reserves or small missions. The conditions were extremely poor with no plumbing, poor housing and no electricity. They also didn??™t have access to basics facilities and often suffered from prejudice, verbal and physical abuse.
He was appointed head of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs in 1984, and was the first Indigenous Australian to become t head of a federal government department. In 1987 Perkins was awarded the Order of Australia.
Perkins died in October of 2000 and was given a State funeral. Upon his death he was given the mourning name Kumantjayi Perkins.
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