Champion Of Indigenous Rights Ray Jackson Dies

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A champion of Indigenous rights passed away last night.

Ray Jackson, President and founder of the Indigenous Social Justice Association (ISJA) Sydney was a tireless campaigner for Aboriginal Australia, particularly active in fighting against black deaths in custody.

ISJA Sydney announced the sad news on its Facebook page today, saying he passed away peacefully in his sleep last night, on April 23rd. He passed after attending a regular meeting of the ISJA Sydney.

Ray was a Wiradjuri man and a member of the Stolen Generations. He had a long history in advocacy, and was previously involved in the Socialist Alliance and a number of other groups.

He is well known for his advocacy on behalf of the family of death in custody victims TJ Hickey, Eddie Murray and Mark Mason.

He was a regular face at protests against black deaths in custody, attending in his characteristic black hat and bag adorned with social justice pins. He was never shy of taking the microphone to speak strongly for justice.

Ray’s newsletters, media releases and letters to the editors were frequent and passionate, a reminder of how tireless he was in fighting for Aboriginal rights.  

Another member of ISJA Sydney, Raul Bassi told New Matilda that the Wiradjuri activists had aided a number of Aboriginal families and had worked for the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.

But he didn’t just work on issues around Aboriginal deaths in custody. Jackson was also involved in pushing momentum for justice around the Bowraville murders, protests around the NT intervention, and was on the committee for the Sydney protest against the forced closures of Aboriginal communities in WA.

“What is clear is that the best way to remember comrade Ray Jackson who is still the first elected Aboriginal President and founder of ISJA Sydney in spirit is to put our differences aside and do what Ray Jackson would do,” the ISJA Sydney Facebook page says.

“Unite to continue to help the families and the victims to organise the campaign and march on the streets to wage the fight to stop all deaths in custody and for all other social justice issues as that was one of Ray Jackson's greatest wishes for those of us who worked with him and remember him.”

Mr Bassi said even in this sad time, Mr Jackson’s loss marked a sad day for the Aboriginal rights movement.

“It will be hard to fill the space,” he says.

Amy McQuire

A Darumbul woman from central Queensland, Amy McQuire is the former editor of the National Indigenous Times and Tracker magazine.

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