On Australia Day 1973 Dr. Herbert Cole (“Nugget”) Coombs, the Chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Affairs, Governor of the Reserve Bank and influential Government advisor to six Australian Prime Ministers, speaking at a University of Western Australia Summer School, declared that, “The emergence of what might be called an Aboriginal intelligentsia is taking place in Redfern and other urban centres. It is a politically active intelligentsia…I think they are the most interesting group to emerge from the political point of view in the whole of the Aboriginal community in Australia.”
Coombs’ view was shared by many with an intimate knowledge of the indigenous political movement of the day, but it was a view apparently not shared by the predominately male, non-indigenous Australian historians who have since written about that era. The antipathy of the historical and anthropological establishment toward the urban, militant activists of Redfern, Fitzroy and South Brisbane seems equaled only by an apparent lack of knowledge of events that occurred in these effectively ‘closed’ communities during the late 60s and early 70s. Attendant as a natural consequence of ignorance of the defining events of these communities, is the manner in which historians have trivialized, marginalized and dismissed the achievements and historical influence of the so-called Australian Black Power Movement.