FOR Kevin Russell, January 26 has always been bittersweet. It is his birthday but it is also Australia Day - a bleak day for many indigenous Australians.
''It's always been a very weird feeling, being an Aboriginal Australian born on that day, a day where we mourn,'' he said.
The 57-year-old, of Adelaide, has a unique connection to the day. William Cooper, his greatgrandfather, founded the Aborigines Progressive Association on that day 75 years ago .
Cooper was confined to the Cummeragunja Mission on the border of NSW and Victoria. Attempts to petition the government had failed.
So on January 26, 1938, Cooper and two others, Jack Patten and William Ferguson, travelled to Sydney, where they held a protest during the sesquicentenary of white arrival in Australia. It was known as the Day of Mourning.
Mr Russell said his great-grandfather ''has received recognition for protesting for other minority groups, yet actions like the Day of Mourning are untold stories''.
In Sydney, 20,000 people will come together on Saturday to remember Cooper, his collaborators and what they stood for. Those at the Yabun Festival, an annual celebration of indigenous culture at Victoria Park in Sydney, will pause for 15 minutes to remember him.
Lily Shearer, one of the festival's organisers, said: ''We've come a long way since the original Day of Mourning but, saying that, we still have a long way to go.
''Sovereign rights still need to be on the table, native title is not land rights, health and education is still not up to standard.''
Mr Russell has continued the work of his ancestor by working with Link-Up, which reunites members of the stolen generations with their families.
Mr Russell said indigenous reaction to Australia Day would always be deeply personal. ''That's what it was like in '38. Other indigenous leaders wrote to William and Jack and said: 'Don't do this.' But they said: 'No, we've got nothing to celebrate.'''