Apartheid was a system of racial segregation introduced by the South African National Party in 1948. Whites were regarded as ‘first class’; everyone else was ‘second’ or ‘third class’. Black people had few civil rights and mostly lived in hardship and poverty. From as early as 1950, many groups and individuals took part in the fight for justice in South Africa.

Anti-apartheid demonstrators lie on the street in Melbourne, Victoria, in protest of the 1971 South African Springboks rugby union tour of Australia. (Newspix)

Australia's anti-apartheid movement held demonstrations throughout the South Africans' six-week tour. (Fairfax)

Demonstrators jeer the Springboks at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 1971. (Fairfax)

Opponents often faced bitter opposition and some were jailed for their actions. (Newspix)

While Australia did not have a formal system of racial segregation, Aboriginal Australians experienced discrimination. (Fairfax)

Aboriginal activist Gary Foley played an active role in organising anti-apartheid protests against the South African Springboks in 1971. He and fellow protestor Billy Craigie were arrested for wearing Springbok jerseys. Police believed they had stolen them.

Aboriginal Activist Gary Foley wearing a Springbok jersey, 1971. (Fairfax)

“The South African Prime Minister, Vorster, stated that no black man would ever wear a revered Afrikaner symbol like the Springbok rugby jersey”

Gary Foley, 2000

Aboriginal activists mock the words of South African Prime Minister John Vorster. (Fairfax)

The Springbok rugby jersey worn by Gary Foley in 1971, now on display in Memories of the Struggle.

Memories of the Struggle is now open at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House.

Were you involved in the struggle? Share your stories.

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  • ubik

    Finally something worth knowing on Steller. I have a nike sprinbok shirt and got its story. Thank you!


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