White Australia Has a Black History

William Cooper And First Nations Peoples’ Political Activism (William Cooper Gentle Warrior Book 1)
Authored by Barbara Miller

Also Available on Amazon


This Is not your typical Australian History book or biography. Behind the dominant story is the black history of white Australia as seen through the eyes and life of William Cooper and other First Nations People.

Let me Introduce you to William Cooper, a pioneer of the Aboriginal movement for basic human rights who shaped Australia’s political activism.

How much do you really know about William Cooper? He was a leader in political activism for basic human rights who stood up for Australian Aborigines. He also led Aborigines in a protest march to the German Consulate in Melbourne against the persecution of Jews at Kristallnacht in 1938.

But Cooper’s contribution to Australia does not stop there. In this eye-opening political memoir or biography, you will learn William Cooper’s story from the very beginning and gain an in-depth understanding of his everlasting influence on future political activism.


My book “William Cooper Gentle Warrior: Standing Up for Australian Aborigines and Persecuted Jews” was published in November 2012. In updating it in 2019, I have found it to be too big for one book so I have created the William Cooper Gentle Warrior Series and No 1 book is focusing on William Cooper’s Aboriginal activism and No 2 book is focusing on his activism on behalf of the Jewish community. In both books, his grandson Uncle Boydie or Alf Turner and other family members have carried on his legacy and fulfilled William’s unfulfilled dreams. So, the story continues.

Also, as William Cooper was a pioneer of the Aboriginal movement for human rights in Australia, much of what has happened since his passing has built on the platform he established. This means book No 1 really becomes a history of Indigenous affairs from contact till today. However, William Cooper was not alone. The stories of other key Aboriginal leaders of his time and beyond are also covered.

It is a privilege for me to bring this story to you. As you will see, I became part of the unfolding story and maybe you will too.


Barbara is a historian, pastor, mediator, psychologist, sociologist, teacher, social justice advocate and sought-after speaker. She lives in Cairns, Australia with her husband Norman, an Aboriginal artist and pastor. They have travelled widely overseas speaking at conferences including 10 trips to Israel facilitating Christian conferences and leading tour groups. They also enjoy a regular cappuccino, newspaper reading and an occasional time out at the beach living as they do in tropical Cairns, Australia.

Her memoir White Woman Black Heart was shortlisted for the Queensland Literary Awards in 2018 for the main prize, the Queensland Premier’s Award for a Work of State Significance.

Her first book on the Holocaust was the biography called William Cooper, Gentle Warrior: Standing Up for Indigenous Australians and Persecuted Jews in 2012. Cooper was a Christian Aboriginal Australian who, as well as being an activist for his people, led one of the few private protests worldwide against Kristallnacht, the start of the Holocaust or Shoah in 1938. He has been honoured at Yad Vashem for that. Barbara is now updating the 2012 book into two books – White Australia Has A Black History: First Nations People’s Political Activism, just published and the second is on the way.

Barbara’s own history of activism and her work for Aboriginal organisations such as the North Queensland Land Council which she helped establish in 1975 and the Aboriginal Coordinating Council (ACC) of which she was CEO in the 1990s, have given her an insider’s view. The ACC was a statutory body representing remote Aboriginal local government councils.

If I Survive: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 100-year-old Lena Goldstein’s Miracle Story is Barbara’s second book on the Holocaust. This gripping biography of Lena Goldstein is the first in a series called Faces of Eve and has come out of Barbara’s long history of involvement with the Jewish community in Australia and Israel.

She wrote an intriguing historical biography in 2014 on European adventurers such as Quiros, Torres and Janszoon who voyaged through the Pacific Islands in the early 1600s looking for a large south land. Barbara followed in 2018 with her memoir, White Woman Black Heart: Journey Home to Old Mapoon, A Memoir and The Dying Days of Segregation in Australia: Case Study Yarrabah.



5.0 out of 5 stars

“Australia rode on the back of Aboriginal people’

Author Barbara Miller brings to our attention the life and impact of William Cooper and his extraordinary impact on the human rights movement. Not only is Barbara a writer of historical books, she is also a pastor, psychologist, sociologist, mediator, teacher and social justice advocate! Her award winning books have become a staple for readers wishing to learn more about Australian history.

In her brief preface Barbara states, ‘William Cooper was a pioneer of the Aboriginal movement for human rights in Australia and much of what has happened since his passing has built on the platform he established…William Cooper was not alone. The stories of other key Aboriginal leaders of his time are also covered.’ Now this book is Book 1 of Barbara’s duology, this one serves as a history of Indigenous affairs from contact till today.

Extensively researched and presented in a near novel-like manner, the history opens with the birth of William Coop in 1860 and proceeds through his life to his demise in 1941. Barbara makes excellent use of vintage photographs to enhance her fine biography and social document. She traces the first white settlers and the impact they made on the country’s economy and workforce, one of the key forces in Cooper’s commitment to human rights and social justice. Many important characters populate this book, such as the missionary Daniel Matthews among others. Relating the facts with points of background interest keeps the flow of the book alive and vibrant.

There is so much to learn from this extensively annotated epic survey: the history and tensions and abuse of human rights has a clear parallel with situations in other countries, especially in America. We learn, or should learn, from history, and aside from reading this fascinating book for enjoyment, explore the thought patterns and developments as they apply here, today. Or as Barbara summarizes, ‘William Cooper spoke up. William Cooper stood up and was counted. So, should we all in whatever way we can. The price of freedom and justice is high, but the cost of losing it is higher.’ Recommended. “

Grady Harp

Top Contributor: Children’s Books – HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER
September 26, 2019

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