Aboriginal activist Dr Roberta Sykes passes away

Dr Roberta (‘Bobbi’) Sykes, Aboriginal activist, author, academic and poet passed away on Sunday after a long illness.  Born in Townsville in 1944, was a trailblazer for Aboriginal rights in Australia. She became well-known in 1972 when she was arrested at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy outside Parliament House in Canberra. Later she became the first executive secretary of the Tent Embassy, advising on Aboriginal health and education issues.

Dr Sykes was the first black Australian to go to Harvard University where she was awarded a PhD in the 1980s.  Passionate, inspirational and often controversial, Roberta Sykes documented her life in a 3 part autobiography - Snake Cradle (1997), Snake Dancing (1998) and Snake Circle (2000).  These publications, along with her books of poetry are held in the John Oxley Library.

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