Cooper remembered at the Sydney Jewish Museum

November 21, 2011 by J-Wire
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Kevin Russell, the great-grandson of the late William Cooper, the founder and leader of the Australian Aborigines’ League (AAL), paid tribute to Cooper’s courage, compassion and lifelong commitment to social justice, in a moving address delivered at the Sydney Jewish Museum on Sunday.

Dr Anne Sarzin, Kevin Russell and Rob Schneider

Russell’s address marked the Museum’s acquisition of a commemorative panel inscribed with the story of William Cooper’s protest march on 6 December 1938 through the streets of Melbourne to the German Consulate in order to deliver a petition that condemned the ‘cruel persecution of the Jewish people by the Nazi government of Germany’ and called for this tyranny to be brought to an end.  Regrettably, the doors were shut by order of the German consul, Dr D.W.Drechsler. It is the only recorded protest against the events of Kristallnacht.

‘We must remember the people who went before us,’ Russell said. ‘There are many stories that make us who we are.’

Russell stated that William Cooper’s Melbourne protest march and attempt to deliver the AAL’s petition was but one courageous action in a life devoted to securing rights for threatened ethnicities in several countries abroad and for his own disenfranchised people. ‘He fought over six decades for his people,’ he said.

William Cooper drew strength and inspiration from his Christian upbringing, and was influenced by Daniel  Matthews, the minister in charge at the Maloga Mission where he was born.  His mother, Kitty, a human rights activist, was an inspirational role model whom Kevin described as a ‘warrior’.

Several members of the extended William Cooper family attended the function, including Barbara McDonald, her daughter Sharyn and son Michael.

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