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This Incredible Speech About Indigenous Injustice Is Being Hailed As One Of The Best In Australian History

"It was speech the like of which we have never heard."

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One of Australia's most influential Indigenous advocates says a speech by Aboriginal journalist Stan Grant will go down in history as a turning point in race relations.

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Noel Pearson has heaped praise upon the speech, delivered last October as part of a debate on racism, as a strong emotive summation of the disadvantage and suffering experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders since colonisation.

"The Australian Dream is rooted in racism," Grant, a Wiradjuri man, says in the speech. "It is the very foundation of the dream. It is there at the birth of the nation. It is there in terra nullius. An empty land. A land for the taking. Sixty-thousand years of occupation.

"And when British people looked at us, they saw something sub-human, and if we were human at all, we occupied the lowest rung on civilisation's ladder. We were fly-blown, stone-age savages and that was the language that was used. Charles Dickens, the great writer of the age, when referring to the noble savage of which we were counted among, said, 'It would be better that they be wiped off the face of the Earth.'"

"Captain Arthur Phillip, a man of enlightenment, a man who was instructed to make peace with the so-called natives in a matter of years, was sending out raiding parties with the instruction, 'Bring back the severed heads of the black troublemakers.'"

The video of the speech has gone viral since it was posted online by The Ethics Centre last Sunday, watched by more than 1 million people on Facebook. It has been praised by thousands of people around the world and ignited debate around race on Australia Day.

"How am I feeling? I am astounded, humbled and perplexed. Australians are coming to this with newly opened ears and clear eyes, yet we have been telling this story for so long," Grant wrote in The Guardian about the attention his speech has received.

"In the larger sweep of histories, Grant’s searing meditation on racism in our country will be seen as a moment our feet first waded into the swollen waters of our own rubicon," Noel Pearson said.

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The prominent Cape York Leader used his National Press Club (NPC) speech on Monday to hail Stan Grant's viral speech on racism as a watershed moment in Australia's history.

"Before proceeding with my presentation allow me a brief reflection on Stan Grant's speech from a debate last year, only recently illuminated. It was a tour de force."

Pearson, a powerful and often divisive figure who founded the Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership, didn't mince words about Grant's blistering oration.

"It was speech the like of which we have never heard, from someone speaking from within the idea of Australia. The truths of its indictments were long articulated by generations of Indigenous Australians on the utter fringes of the ideas of Australia, but never in the public square. Stan Grant has now done this in most explicit terms.

"Whether we make the crossing will depend on whether we can turn the indictment into admission, the admission into forgiveness, forgiveness into atonement, and atonement into reconciliation."

Pearson also told the NPC that Grant's words rivalled former prime minister Paul Keating's seminal Redfern Park speech.

"His [speech] is the companion to PM Paul Keating's speech at Redfern Park in 1992," Pearson said.

The Redfern speech by Keating is considered one of the most powerful speeches delivered by a public figure on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs.

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Keating acknowledged the genocidal policies of the past and the cruel treatment and abuse foisted upon Indigenous people since the landing of the first fleet.

"The Report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody showed with devastating clarity that the past lives on in inequality, racism, and injustice," Keating said. "In the prejudice and ignorance of non-Aboriginal Australians, and in the

demoralisation and desperation, the fractured identity, of so many Aborigines and

Torres Strait Islanders."

"It begins, I think, with that act of recognition. Recognition that it was we who did the dispossessing. We took the traditional lands and smashed the traditional way of life. We brought the diseases. The alcohol. We committed the murders. We took the children from their mothers. We practised discrimination and exclusion."

Meanwhile, Grant's powerful speech is being praised by people around the world.

This brought tears to my eyes. @stangrant #australiandream #racism #2016 https://t.co/tMdqmhmuOf

"My eight-minute speech has come after 200-plus years of struggle" #StanGrant #SurvivalDay https://t.co/u7aejOBpQm

What an amazing speech => https://t.co/Z2w35vKSHG meet #StanGrant the man who made it @AJStream 4.30g, 8.30g, 1430g

#StanGrant shares his thoughts on the reception to his speech against racism #SurvivalDay #InvasionDay #auspol

Can I suggest people watch ENTIRE 'Racism is destroying the Australian dream debate' w/ #StanGrant it's must see! https://t.co/EndpCL4Rr5

Never heard a better speech. https://t.co/NBsVhlQHCk #StanGrant @BenQuilty @WenhamDavid . Enough intolerance, enough racism- wherever we are

Allan Clarke is an Indigenous Affairs Reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

Contact Allan Clarke at allan.clarke@buzzfeed.com.

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