ACTIVISTS PROTEST—In this Jan. 26 file photo, Aboriginal activists carry a banner during an Australia Day protest in Adelaide, Australia. The awarding of the Sydney Peace Prize to Black Lives Matter for its work on American race issues is being hailed by local activists as a progressive step, but is also highlighting Australia’s own struggles with race relations. (Tim Dornin/AAP Image via AP)

SYDNEY (AP)—A Black Lives Matter co-founder called on Australians to make a courageous stand and heal the nation’s racial problems and said Nov. 1 the U.S.-based movement was committed to the global struggle of the Black race and solidarity with Australia’s indigenous people.

In Australia to accept the Sydney Peace Prize on behalf of her movement—the first time the 20-year-old award is being bestowed upon an organization—Patrisse Cullors said Australia’s racial problems mirrored those of the United States, where Black Lives Matter began four years ago after the killing of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.

“Many people know about the mass incarceration of people of color in the United States, but most aren’t aware aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the most incarcerated in the world.”

Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors

In an address to journalists at the National Press Club in Canberra, Cullors said Black Lives Matter had grown from a hashtag in the United States to a group with more than 40 chapters worldwide.

“We stand here today as a Black Lives Matter global network committing to be a part of a long legacy of a global Black struggle and solidarity with the indigenous peoples of Australia, South Sea islanders and Torres Strait Islanders,” Cullors said.

She urged the Australian government to heed the demands of its indigenous communities because too often people found the government to be a silent bystander or perpetuator of the atrocities Black people faced.

“We, Black people, we’ve been courageous. Our ancestors have been courageous. We need you—elected officials, appointed officials, and journalists—it’s your turn to be courageous. We need you to make a choice to heal this country, we need you to believe, to listen to the community in Australia, because silence, that’s the silence that often gives way to more murder … more disadvantages.”

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