Gillian Triggs is a pearls-and-perfectly-cut-jacket person these days, so it is thrilling to learn that she was dressed head to toe in motorcycle leathers when she had one of the more instructive experiences of her life. It was 1972, and Triggs, the future president of the Australian Human Rights Commission, was in the United States working as a legal adviser at the Dallas Police Department. She and a colleague took a motorbike trip through rural Wisconsin, twenty-six-year-old Triggs riding pillion as they sped through forests and open countryside. When they pulled into a backblocks petrol station, the attendant took one look at them and refused to fill their tank. ‘I remember vividly the shock of realising that we were not welcome and, worse, we could not refuel,’ Triggs writes in Speaking Up. She adds that her colleague was less surprised. ‘He was a black American.’
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