In 1993 at the end of an AFL match between Collingwood and St Kilda, Nicky Winmar was photographed when he responded to racial abuse hurled at him by fans of the opposing team by lifting his guernsey, pointing to his skin and saying ‘I’m black and I’m proud to be black’. The photograph that was published with the story in the papers has become a symbol of race relations in Australia.
Nicky Winmar and GIlbert McAdam had been the best players that day, leading St Kilda to victory on Collingwood’s home ground.
Significance of the moment
Winmar’s stand against racism had raised awareness of the problem in sport and had paved the way for other Indigenous AFL players. Two years later, Michael Long confronted the AFL about racial abuse in the league and prompted them to introduce anti-discrimination policy.
Michael Long in 1995
Long’s official complaint to the AFL was responsible for the immediate introduction of a code of conduct that contained racial vilification policies. Clubs and players could now be fined or suspended.
Today, there are more than 50 Indigenous professional AFL players, a much higher representation than their proportion of the general population.
Years later in 2004, Michael Long started a protest march walking from Melbourne to Canberra to talk to the Prime Minister at the time, John Howard, about the plight of Indigenous people. John Howard agreed to meet with him when he arrived in Canberra. This event has come to be known as The Long Walk.