FORMER Aboriginal stars Larry Corowa and Joe Williams have urged Indigenous players not to stand for the national anthem on grand final day in a move that would rock the game.
The pair want Indigenous players to follow the lead of NFL player Colin Kaepernick, who has created a storm in the USA in recent weeks by refusing to stand for the anthem to protest against the treatment of African Americans.
Kaepernick’s actions [pictured right] have divided America but former Rabbitohs star turned Aboriginal activist Williams applauds his stance.
Williams created a similar storm on Australia Day this year when he refused to stand for the national anthem in Wagga after being named Citizen of the Year for his work on suicide prevention.
“They wanted me to give the award back because I was being disrespectful,” Williams tells RLW.
“But I wasn’t being disrespectful – I was respecting my ancestors who were raped and murdered by white Australians.
“People tell me it was a courageous thing to do but I say no, it was just a moral choice. I applaud Kaepernick for what he has done and I know he’s copped a lot of flak for it.
“Imagine if a couple of guys did it on grand final day – what a powerful message it would send to white Australia.
“It would bring all the racism that’s in the closet to the surface – the racism we have to put up with every day. The way we are treated in shops, the way people look at us on the street and the way the government treats us.
“It’s time it stopped. And our footballers are role models and the ideal ones to bring about change.
“They need to take a stance. They are only footballers for a short time . . . but they are black men till the day they die.”
Williams’ views are backed by Corowa, arguably the highest-profile living Aboriginal league star, who was awarded an MBE for services to sport in 1980.
“It’s time to send a powerful message to our government, which has not been effective enough in closing the gap between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous people,” Corowa says.
“And all it would take is one player to do it on grand final day.
“I wish someone would have the courage to do it – it would be something to see.
“Imagine if someone with the respect of Johnathan Thurston did it – what a powerful statement that would make.”
Williams revealed he made a silent – and un-noticed protest – similar to Kaepernick’s on the field almost a
“In 2007 the Roosters were playing Souths and all the players stood locking arms before kick-off as they played the national anthem,” he says.
“I stood by myself off to the side and didn’t sing [pictured, above] . . . I just felt very disconnected from the whole thing because of the history of oppression on the black man.
“No-one paid attention or understood, and I didn’t make a big thing of it. It was my own personal protest.”
Williams has copped a huge backlash for his Australia Day stance, but is unrepentant.
“I got slammed by white people around Wagga,” he says.
“One local councillor demanded I be stripped of the award. He said I was showing no respect.
“He just doesn’t get it. I was showing respect – to my own people.
“Australia Day commemorates the arrival of white Australians and the start of the massacre of the black man.
“For white people, it’s a day of celebration. For the black man it’s a day of mourning.”
I agree its time it stopped, but I highly doubt what Williams suggests is going to be the right way in doing that.
Williams obviously hasnt considered JT might have other things on his mind come GF day should they get there….would it cause a divide in the team, particulalrly if their team mates knew what was to happen beforehand, or even moreso if he surprised them on the day…might put them off their game a bit, yep…that would be a strong message
I saw this online only the other day…
…maybe Larry & Sam should heed what Morgan Freeman says?