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Archie's song of inspiration

May 19, 2013 9:22 AM

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Archie Roach will perform his song The Colour of Your Jumper at the Dreamtime at the 'G game on Saturday night

The Colour of Your Jumper is a song Archie Roach penned 20 years ago to express his personal belief that the colour of the jumper in any footy team is more important than the colour of the players’ skin.

In an unplanned response at the final siren of a victorious game for St Kilda in 1993, Nicky Winmar took direct action with a defiant gesture that would become an iconic moment in AFL history. He lifted his jumper, pointing to his skin as a stand against racism.

Only a few years before in 1990 a young Archie Roach released his critically acclaimed debut album, Charcoal Lane, (produced by Paul Kelly and the late Steven Connolly), which featured a song Took The Children Away.

The song became an anthem not only for Australia’s Stolen Generations but for indigenous communities around the world who had endured the pain of being forcibly removed from their families. The album went on to win multiple awards, including a Human Rights Award; the first time such an award had been awarded to a songwriter.

Back then, Nicky and Gilbert were big fans of Archie’s music. Both of them would get along to a few of his shows and catch up with Archie after.

“They were both hurt by what had happened; it had a big impact on them and they were struggling with that pain,” Archie said.  “When Nicky lifted his jumper that day and pointed to his black skin in defiance of the racial abuse directed at him and other indigenous players in 1993, it made me sad and angry that this champion would have to do that.

“More importantly, I think, is what the jumper meant to Nicky and many others on that fateful day. What I saw was not just an Aboriginal man proud of his heritage and people, but a young man who had made it, an elite sportsman in the greatest game, Australian Rules Football, the AFL, who played his heart out for that jumper.

“What I heard was, ‘Yeah I’m black but we are the mighty Saints.” That is what has only ever mattered, the game, the team and the jumper!  Idiot racist remarks are hurtful and are probably never going to stop. But they are the losers as the game will always win out whether the players are black, white or brindle.”

ARCHIE ROACH will perform ‘The Colour Of Your Jumper’ at the AFL Indigenous Round ‘Dreamtime at the ‘G’ game on May 25th between Essendon and Richmond.