Pearl Gibbs (Gambanyi) : Google Doodle Celebrates Pearl Gibbs “Gambanyi’s” 120th Birthday

Pearl Gibbs (Gambanyi) :

Pearl Gibbs (Gambanyi) (1901 – 28 April 1983) was an Indigenous Australian activist, and the most prominent female activist within the Aboriginal movement in the early 20th century. She was a member of the Aborigines Progressive Association (APA), and was involved with various protest events such as the 1938 Day of Mourning.

Early life

Gibbs was born Pearl Mary Brown in La Perouse, Sydney, in 1901, to Mary Margaret Brown and David Barry. Gibbs grew up in and around the town of Yass, where she attended Mount Carmel School along with her sister Olga. In 1917, Gibbs and her sister moved to Sydney to work as domestics, Gibbs found a position in Potts Point. Gibbs met other Aboriginal women and girls who were apprenticed as domestics by the Aborigines Protection Board and helped them make representations to the Board about their working conditions.

Later she married a British sailor, with whom she had a daughter and two sons; however, they later separated, and Gibbs cared for the children on her own.

Google Celebrates Pearl Gibbs “Gambanyi’s” 120th Birthday with a Doodle

Today’s Doodle, illustrated by Yuwi, Torres Strait Islander and South Sea Islander guest artist Dylan Mooney, celebrates revolutionary Aboriginal Australian activist Pearl Gibbs “Gambanyi”, who is widely regarded among the 20th-century’s leading advocates for Aboriginal rights.

Pearl Gibbs “Gambanyi’s” 120th Birthday

Pearl Mary Gibbs “Gambanyi” was born on this day in 1901 to an Aboriginal mother and a non-Aboriginal father in La Perouse, New South Wales. At 16, Gibbs moved with her family to Sydney, where she worked as a servant. It was here that she met Aboriginal girls stolen from their homes and forced into domestic work—injustices that sparked her lifetime devotion to the fight for Aboriginal rights.

In 1937, Gibbs helped form the Aborigines Progressive Association (APA), an all-Aboriginal activist alliance that campaigned for Aboriginal citizenship, suffrage, and an end to unjust governmental bodies. As APA secretary beginning in 1938, she exposed the inhumane conditions and exploitation of women and children at government-run Aboriginal reserves. A public speaker as charismatic as she was influential, Gibbs helped organize the Day of Mourning protest that same year. Widely credited as the catalyst of the contemporary Aboriginal political movement, this demonstration was the first to bring the plight of Indigenous Australians to national attention.

Gibbs never faltered in her efforts for Indigenous justice over the decades that followed, a struggle that culminated in 1954 when the New South Wales Aborigines Welfare Board appointed her as its first—and only—female member. She also helped organize the Aboriginal-Australian Fellowship (AAF) in 1956. With Gibbs at the helm, the AAF petitioned for a change in the Australian constitution, which paved the way for the 1967 referendum that granted Indigenous Australians suffrage and citizenship.

Today’s Doodle artwork depicts Gibbs’ life, legacy, and dedication to improving the lives of Aboriginal Australians—symbolized, for instance, by the Flannel Flowers on her dress, an icon she adopted to represent resilience.

Happy Birthday, Pearl Gibbs “Gambanyi,” and thank you for your lifetime devotion to building a more equitable world.

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