Sir Francis Villeneuve Smith was the third Premier and fourth Chief Justice of the British colony of Tasmania. He was born in Haiti and his mother, Josephine Villeneuve, was of African descent. His skin colour was dark. He migrated to Australia from England, where he had been educated and admitted to the Bar. His brilliance soon won him high public offices. However, his skin colour led to social isolation for his mother and denigration and insults intended to wound him. He was called ‘Blackie Smith’, ‘Nigger’ etc. But his talents overcame the racial taunts and the outrage that ‘a coloured person is sitting in judgment upon the Anglican (sic) race’. His experience was accompanied by racist laws and policies in Australia against which we must be ever vigilant.
SOURCE: Kirby, Michael. “Australian racism: The story of Australia’s first and only black premier and chief justice – Sir Francis Villeneuve Smith.” The Journal of the NSW Bar Association, Dec 2019.
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