Today is 28 February … the last day of February and the final day of Black History Month in both the U.S. and Canada. I have let the ball drop this month, for reasons at least partly beyond my control, but our friend John Fioravanti has helped by sharing with us so much of Canada’s black history! Last week, I published Part I of John’s guest post, and we thought it fitting to save Part II for the final day of February, to wrap up the month. I would like to thank John for all the hard work he put into these wonderfully informative posts! Hey John … what say we do it again next year?
Upper Canada did not flourish, and Loyalist settlements remained scattered and isolated. Simcoe’s vision of a prosperous, English-speaking province was not shared in London. Britain viewed the fledgling colony as a mere appendage…
Dr. Afua Cooper, born in Jamaica, has made significant artistic and academic contributions to Canadian society.
Afua Cooper – Educator, Historian, Performance Artist, Poet
In addition to her renown as a dub poet-performance artist, Afua Cooper is an internationally-ranked historian., especially for her groundbreaking book The Hanging of Angélique: The Untold Story of Canadian Slavery and the Burning of Old Montréal.
Afua (Ava Pamela) Cooper, educator, historian, performance artist, poet (born 8 November 1957 in the Whithorn district of Westmoreland, Jamaica), is considered one of the most influential and pioneering voices in the Canadian dub poetry [it consists of spoken word over reggae rhythms] and spoken word movement. Her poems are published in numerous regional, national and international journals and anthologies. Afua Cooper also has CDs of her performances that make her work well known to the global community.In addition to her renown as a performance artist, Cooper is an internationally-ranked historian. She has taught Caribbean cultural studies, history, women’s studies and Black studies at Ryerson and York universities, at the University of Toronto and at Dalhousie University. Continue reading “Black History In Canada… Afua Cooper”
* 1952 – Vincent Massey installed as first Canadian-born Governor General. * 1953 Watson and Crick discover chemical structure of DNA * 1993 Federal agents raid the Branch Davidian compound in Waco Texas * 2013 Pope Benedict resigns * 1983 Final episode of M*A*S*H airs
It’s Hump Day Wednesday! Did You Know…
* 1952 – Vincent Massey installed as first Canadian-born Governor General.
Charles Vincent Massey, [see featured image at the top] PC, CC, governor-general 1952-1959, historian, business executive, politician, diplomat, royal commissioner, patron of the arts (born 20 February 1887 in Toronto; died 30 December 1967 in London, England). Massey was the country’s first Canadian-born governor general [representing the Crown as Canada’s Head of State]. He helped create the Order of Canada in 1967, and as a champion of the arts in Canada laid the groundwork for the Canada Council, the National Library of Canada and the National Arts Centre. Continue reading “John’s Believe It Or Not… February 28th”
It’s on the tip of everyone’s tongue, at the center of most discussions, in the headlines of every news outlet: The National Rifle Association, aka NRA. The debate about gun regulations is raging, much the same as it always does after a mass shooting, particularly one involving children, but this one may be different, for those children were on the cusp of adulthood, and their friends, those who survived the shooting in Parkland, Florida almost two weeks ago, are old enough to be outraged that a young man, one of their former classmates, was able to buy a military-grade assault weapon, ammunition, and mow down their friends without a thought. They are outraged to hear politicians skirting around the issue of gun regulation, rather than answering their tough questions. They are old enough to become activists, and they have a vested interest in doing so.
Josiah Henson was born into slavery in Maryland and escaped to Upper Canada in 1830.
Josiah Henson – Spiritual Leader, Author, Founder
Josiah Henson, spiritual leader, author, founder of the Black community settlement at Dawn, Upper Canada/Canada West (born 15 June 1789 in Charles County, Maryland; died 5 May 1883 in Dresden, ON). Born enslaved, Henson escaped to Canada in 1830. He founded the Dawn Settlement near Dresden, Upper Canada, for American fugitives from enslavement. He and a group of associates organized a trade-labor school, the British-American Institute. He was active on the executive committee until the Institute closed in 1868. Henson served as Dawn’s spiritual leader and patriarch and made numerous fundraising trips to the United States and England. He published his autobiography in 1849, and he was allegedly Harriet Beecher Stowe’s model for the lead character in her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852).
Henson first tried to buy his freedom in 1825. His owner, Isaac Riley, needed money and sent Henson to escort a group of 18 enslaved persons to Kentucky. While in transit, the group could easily have escaped to Ohio and made themselves free, but Henson believed his owner’s offer of manumission (ownership of himself). Consequently, he would not allow the escape and was later disappointed when he realized that his owner had no intention of giving him his freedom. He was taken, along with his wife and four children, to New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1829 to be sold. Henson and his family fled to Upper Canada, reaching the Niagara Peninsula on 28 October 1830.
Henson and his family settled near Dresden, Upper Canada. With his leadership skills, he was able to command the support of abolitionists who helped him create the Dawn Settlement, a place for refugees from enslavement to gain the education and skills necessary for self-sufficiency and self-determination. It was Henson’s belief that Black persons needed to learn skills within their own community. In 1841, Henson and his partners purchased 200 acres of land, and in 1842, they established the British-American Institute. A central focus of the settlement, the school was created for students of all ages and was sustainably designed to train teachers while providing general education and trade-labor instruction to members of the community. The community of Dawn developed around the Institute, with many residents farming, attending the Institute, and working in sawmills, gristmills and in other local industries.
After the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, some members of the community returned or moved to the United States, though many remained at Dawn.
Henson’s autobiography The Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada (1849) was published in order to raise funds for the continuation of the Dawn Settlement. Many consider Henson’s autobiography to be the inspiration for the lead character in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
Some have expressed concern over Josiah Henson as the model for the Uncle Tom character in Beecher Stowe’s novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Though written and published as an anti-slavery text, the book portrayed Black persons in a stereotypical manner.
* 1900 – Royal Canadian Regiment plays a decisive role in the Battle of Paardeburg. * 1827 New Orleanians take to the streets for Mardi Gras * 1897 Britain recognizes U.S. authority over Western Hemisphere * 1973 AIM occupation of Wounded Knee begins * 1936 Shirley Temple receives $50 thousand per film
It’s Tuesday! Did You Know…
* 1900 – Royal Canadian Regiment plays a decisive role in the Battle of Paardeburg.
On 18 February 1900, British forces began to besiege a Boer army commanded by General Piet Cronje at Paardeberg Drift on the banks of the Modder River. Among the attacking force were 31 officers and 866 other ranks of the 2nd (Special Service) Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry. This was the first major Canadian action of the South African War. The first day’s assault was extremely bloody, with the Canadians suffering 18 dead and 60 wounded, their worst losses in a single day during the war. The British high command decided to wait out the surrounded Boers. Continue reading “John’s Believe It Or Not… February 27th”
Dionne Brand a highly accomplished poet, writer, and social activist made Canada her home after migrating from Trinidad.
Dionne Brand – Poet, Writer, Educator, and Activist
Dionne Brand, poet, writer, filmmaker, educator and activist (born 7 January 1953 in Guayaguayare, Trinidad). Winner of the Governor General’s Award and the Griffin Poetry Prize, and former poet laureate of Toronto, Dionne Brand is considered one of Canada’s most accomplished poetic voices. Continue reading “Black History Month In Canada… Dionne Brand”
* 1942 – National Film Board wins its first Oscar with Churchill’s Island. * 1993 World Trade Center bombed * 1949 Lucky Lady II begins nonstop global flight * 1928 Fats Domino is born in New Orleans * 1919 Two national parks preserved – 10 years apart
It’s Monday! Did You Know…
* 1942 – National Film Board wins its first Oscar with Churchill’s Island.
On February 26, 1942, National Film Board of Canada Commissioner John Grierson accepted the Academy Award for documentary short for the film Churchill’s Island. Originally produced for a Canadian audience as part of the Canada Carries On series of newsreels, the film would make a huge splash in the USA and help launch a new series produced specifically for our American neighbors.Continue reading “John’s Believe It Or Not… February 26th”
Ferguson Jenkins became one of the premier pitchers in pro baseball history pitching in both the American and National leagues.
Ferguson (Fergie) Arthur Jenkins – Pro Baseball Player
Born in Chatham, Ontario, in 1942, Ferguson Arthur Jenkins was discovered by Philadelphia Phillies scout Gene Dziadura at the age of 15. While he initially had dreams to become a professional hockey player, Fergie’s 21-year professional baseball career began with the Phillies in 1965.
From 1967–1972, while a member of the Chicago Cubs, Fergie accomplished an incredible achievement of six straight 20-win seasons, winning the 1971 NL Cy Young Award as the league’s top pitcher.
In 1974, after being traded to the Texas Rangers, Fergie won the American League Comeback Player of the Year Award, winning a career-high 25 games. He remained in Texas for one more season before going to the Boston Red Sox for two years, and then back to the Rangers for four more seasons until 1981.
Fergie retired after the 1983 season, returning to Chicago and retiring as a Cub, not long after recording his 3,000th strikeout. At the time, he was the only pitcher in baseball history to strikeout more than 3,000 batters while accumulating less than 1,000 walks (997), a feat only since matched by Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez, and Greg Maddux.
Career Highlights include the following: the first and only Canadian to be inducted into the National Baseball National Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, July of 1991; induction into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame at St. Mary’s, Ontario, 1987; Lou Marsh Award recipient as Canada’s top athlete, 1974; Canadian Press Male Athlete of the Year 1967, 1968, 1971, 1974; inducted onto Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2001; received the Order of Canada, 2007; Inducted into Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame, 2012.
On March 18, 2009, it was announced by the Cubs that Fergie’s number would be retired at Wrigley Field in Chicago. In a ceremony on May 3, 2009, Fergie’s number, 31, was raised up the historic left field foul pole, enshrining him among the other greatest Chicago Cubs players in its storied 138-year history. In 2010, Fergie was honored with a Canadian Postage Stamp in conjunction with Black History Month. In February 2011, he traveled to 46 cities across Canada, promoting the stamp and speaking on behalf of Black History initiatives. His charitable foundation, the Fergie Jenkins Foundation, was founded in 1999 and continues to operate out of St. Catharines, Ontario, raising more than $4-million for hundreds of charities across North America.
In 2011, the Fergie Jenkins Foundation doubled its office size to accommodate the development of the Fergie Jenkins Baseball/Black History Museum. The facility opened to the public in 2013, celebrates Fergie’s athletic and humanitarian accomplishments, showcases his vast collection of sports memorabilia and serves as an educational tool for local youth.
* 1942 – Beginning of the Japanese Canadian Internment. * 1862 Legal Tender Act passed * 1870 African American congressman sworn in * 2004 The Passion of the Christ opens in the United States * 1873 Enrico Caruso is born
It’s Sunday! Did You Know…
* 1942 – Beginning of the Japanese Canadian Internment.
Beginning in early 1942, the Canadian government detained and dispossessed the vast majority of people of Japanese descent living in British Columbia. They were interned for the rest of the Second World War, during which time their homes and businesses were sold by the government in order to pay for their detention.Continue reading “John’s Believe It Or Not… February 25th”