When his family is murdered at Mindil Beach, Darwin in 1913, by local gold miners, an Aboriginal boy is thrown into a mission run by a despotic fundamentalist preacher. As soon as his questioning mind and academic brilliance are discovered, Harry, the “white” name he was given, is rewarded with beatings and isolation. After his escape, Harry encounters Rachel, an eccentric Jewish widow and a refugee from the Russian pogroms in the previous century. The unlikely pair forge a mother/son relationship where his hunger for knowledge is fed by her love of literature, history and music. The time comes when Rachel suggests they use his birth name, instead of Harry, and he surprises her with “you my ma now so you get ta name me.” Rachel chooses the name Amichai, Hebrew for “my people live”, as a way of connecting his past with the destiny she believes is in store for him. With Rachel’s help, Amichai completes high school by correspondence with brilliant results, yet is refused entry to a Melbourne Teacher’s College because of his color. Encouraged by Rachel and his friends, both black and white, Amichai joins the Australian Aborigine’s League, founded by William Cooper, where he becomes a political activist. Hearing of Nazi atrocities during Kristallnacht, “the night of broken glass” in 1938, Cooper leads Amichai and the League to the German Consulate, delivering a petition condemning the "cruel persecution of the Jewish people by the Nazi government of Germany." The protest has been referred to as "the only private protest against the Germans following Kristallnacht." The German Consulate did not accept the petition, but the passion never dies.