• A mural of Indigenous leader, Sam Watson has been painted at Bunyapa Park in Brisbane’s West End. (Douglas Smith)Source: Douglas Smith
One of Meanjin's most prominent Aboriginal activists memorialised with a mural portrait in a park in inner-city suburb West End.
Douglas Smith

15 Jul 2020 - 10:57 AM  UPDATED 15 Jul 2020 - 12:31 PM

A mural of Sam Watson has been painted in Brisbane’s West End to honour the late Wangerriburra and Birri Gubba man for his lifelong fight for Aborginal rights. 

Artist, Warraba Weatherall, told NITV News that he had been commissioned by a local art collective, Blaklash Creative and the Brisbane City Council to paint the memorial piece in Bunyapa Park and that he couldn’t think of a subject more fitting for the project. 

“Everyone in the Brisbane black community knows who Uncle Sam is, he’s played a significant role within the community and local politics for a long time,” said Mr Weatherall.

“I think people even outside of the political movement, who aren’t familiar with him in that sort of area, a lot of community initiatives, a lot of people beyond just blackfullas as well, know who he is.

“Uncle Sam was a really big advocate for Indigenous rights, but also deaths in custody, and his experience of working at the Aboriginal lands Council.”

Sam Watson was a prominent figure in more than five decades of Aboriginal activism, starting out at the age of 16 when he distributed how-to-vote cards at the 1967 Referendum.

Involvement in the original Tent Embassy in Canberra followed, as did a role co-founding the Australian chapter of the Black Panther Party in the early 70s. 

Later, Mr Watson was dedicated in his advocacy for the implementation of the findings of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in the 1990s. 

Mr Watson’s daughter, Nicole, told NITV News that she was “blown away” by how Mr Weatherall “captured the essence” of her father. 

“It wasn’t just the physical likeness, but he captured who dad was and there’s this real sense of really serious political business being discussed by dad," said Ms Watson.

“He’s obviously at a community rally, he’s got the microphone in front of him...and that was dad, that was what he loved doing, doing the serious political work for our mob.” 

Ms Watson said her father was always proud to be a Murri man from south-east Queensland and that he would have been proud of the turnout for the recent Black Lives Matter protest in Meanjin. 

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