Black History Month: Black Excellence
The beginning of February marks the start of Black History Month. This month is a time to celebrate Black excellence, recognize the many contributions Black Canadians have done for Canada and take the time to learn about astounding Black historical Canadian figures. The House of Commons officially listed and recognized February as Black History Month in 1995, a motion carried by the Honourable Jean Augustine.
In accordance with our Commitment to Diversity, we encourage everyone to take this time for self-reflection and education about Black history and the Black experience. Demonstrating active allyship means to commit to the unlearning and relearning of worldviews and perceptions that may be contributing to cycles of oppression. It includes reflecting on unconscious biases and self-correction. This is not easy, but important for true self-awareness and growth.
The first steps could be listening to a podcast from Black creators, diversifying your Instagram feed or FYP on TikTok, reading books and literature, attending virtual Black History Month Events in Residence and supporting Black-owned businesses in the London Community.
Below are some tabs that link to a few resources, connections and sources to start or continue your learning experience.
Feel free to reach out, listen, connect and support. Talk to your Residence Staff, Soph or Manager about your experiences. And for more information, visit the Student Experience Anti-Racism Website.
1. Hidden Figures
“Hidden Figures tells the incredible untold story of Katherine Jonson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) – brilliant women working at NASA who served as the brains behind the launch into orbit of astronaut John Glenn, a stunning achievement that turned around the space race. The visionary trio crossed all gender and racial line and inspired generations.”
Watch the trailer here: Hidden Figures
2. The Hate U Give
“The Hate U Give a movie inspired by the novel by Angie Thomas. It is Thomas's debut novel, expanded from a short story she wrote in college in reaction to the police shooting of Oscar Grant. Starr Carter is a 16-year-old black girl from a poor neighborhood who attends an elite private school in a predominantly white, affluent part of the city. Starr becomes entangled in a national news story after she witnesses a white police officer shoot and kill her childhood friend, Khalil. She speaks up about the shooting in increasingly public ways, and social tensions culminate in a riot after a grand jury decides not to indict the police officer for the shooting.”
Watch the trailer here: The Hate U Give
“Selma is a 2014 historical drama film directed by Ava DuVernay and written by Paul Webb. It is based on the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches initiated and directed by James Bevel and led by Martin Luther King Jr., Hosea Williams, and John Lewis.”
Watch the trailer here: Selma
“Moonlight is a 2016 American coming-of-age drama film written and directed by Barry Jenkins, based on Tarell Alvin McCraney's unpublished semi-autobiographical play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue.”
Watch the trailer here: Moonlight
5. 12 Years a Slave
“Adapted from the 1853 memoir with the same title, the Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave centers on the journey of Solomon Northup, a free Black man in New York who gets kidnapped and enslaved in Louisiana for 12 years before being emancipated. Directed by Steve McQueen, the somber retelling of Northup’s story exposes the dark realities of slavery and its psychological and emotional effects on the Black community, as well as their resilience in the face of utter cruelty.”
Watch the trailer here: 12 Years a Slave
1. When They See Us
“This Limited Series on Netflix is based on events of the 1989 Central Park jogger case and explores the lives and families of the five male suspects who were falsely accused then prosecuted on charges related to the rape and assault of a woman in Central Park, New York City. Each youth was convicted by juries of various charges related to the assault; four were convicted of rape. They were sentenced to maximum terms for juveniles except for Korey Wise, who was 16 at the time of the crime and treated as an adult by the legal system. He had been held in adult facilities and served his time in adult prison. They filed a suit against the city in 2003 for wrongful conviction and were awarded a settlement in 2014.”
Watch the trailer here: When They See Us: Limited Series
“Black-ish follows an upper middle class Black American family led by Andre 'Dre' Johnson (Anthony Anderson) and Rainbow Johnson (Tracee Ellis Ross). The show revolves around the family's lives, as they juggle several personal and sociopolitical issues.”
Watch the season 1 trailer here: Black-ish
“POSE is a drama spotlighting the legends, icons and ferocious house mothers of New York’s underground ball culture, a movement that first gained notice in the 1980s. Making television history, Pose features the largest cast of transgender actors in series regular roles, including Mj Rodriguez, Dominique Jackson, Indya Moore, Hailie Sahar and Angelica Ross, who co-star alongside Tony Award winner and Golden Globe nominee Billy Porter, Ryan Jamaal Swain, Angel Bismark Curiel, and Dyllón Burnside. Sandra Bernhard and Charlayne Woodard round out the ensemble. The Golden Globe-nominated drama also features the largest recurring cast of LGBTQ actors ever for a scripted series.”
Watch the season 1 trailer here: Pose Season 1 Trailer
1. They Said This Would be Fun: Campus Live, and Growing Up
By: Eternity Martis
“A powerful, moving memoir about what it’s like to be a student of colour on a predominantly white campus. A book smart kid from Toronto, Eternity Martis was excited to move away to Western University for her undergraduate degree. But as one of the few Black students there, she soon discovered that the campus experiences she'd seen in movies were far more complex in reality. Over the next four years, Eternity learned more about what someone like her brought out in other people than she did about herself. She was confronted by white students in blackface at parties, dealt with being the only person of colour in class and was tokenized by her romantic partners. She heard racial slurs in bars, on the street, and during lectures. And she gathered labels she never asked for: Abuse survivor. Token. Bad feminist. But, by graduation, she found an unshakeable sense of self--and a support network of other women of colour.”
2. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
By: Maya Angelou
“Here is a book as joyous and painful, as mysterious and memorable, as childhood itself. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings captures the longing of lonely children, the brute insult of bigotry, and the wonder of words that can make the world right. Maya Angelou’s debut memoir is a modern American classic beloved worldwide.”
3. THE POET X
By: Elizabeth Acevedo
“Winner of the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, the Michael L. Printz Award, and the Pura Belpré Award!
Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.
But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself. So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out. But she still can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.”
By: M. NourbeSe Philip
“Blank is a collection of writer and author M. NourbeSe Philip's previously out-of-print essays and new works. The book explores questions of race, cultural appropriation, America under the Trump administration and how we define multiculturalism in Canada.
Philip is a Canadian poet, novelist, essayist and short story writer who was born in Tobago. She is the author of numerous works of fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Earlier in 2020, she won the PEN/Nabokov Award for International Literature.”
5. The Hanging of Angelique
By: Afua Cooper
“The Hanging of Angelique tells the story of Marie-Joseph Angélique, a slave woman convicted of starting a fire that destroyed a large part of Montréal in the 1700s. The work challenges the idea of a slavery-free Canada by way of documenting cases of legally and culturally endorsed slavery in the country.”
6. In the Black
By: B. Denham Jolly
“In the Black documents the overt racism and discrimination that author, activist and entrepreneur B. Denham Jolly endured while establishing a successful business in 1950s Toronto. Those experiences led Jolly to engage in social activism and founded the first Black-owned FM radio station in the city, Flow 93.5. Jolly won the 2017 Toronto Book Award for the memoir.”
7. The Tradition
By: Jericho Brown
“Jericho Brown is an American poet, author and the winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for poetry. His award-winning collection, The Tradition addresses contemporary issues from sexual identity to mass shootings and the police killing of unarmed Black men.”
8. Shame on Me
By: Tessa McWatt
“Tessa McWatt was born in Guyana and came to Canada when she was three years old. She grew up in Toronto and spent years living in Montreal, Paris, Ottawa and London. Her heritage is Scottish, English, French, Portuguese, Indian, Amerindian, African and Chinese. Shame on Me is a memoir about identity, race and belonging by someone who spent a lot of time trying to find an answer to the question, "Who are you?" and who has endured decades of racism and bigotry while trying to figure out who she is and where she belongs.”
9. Frying Plantain
By: Zalika Reid-Benta
“Frying Plantain follows Kara Davis through elementary school to her high school graduation, as she comes of age while being perennially caught between her Canadian nationality and Jamaican heritage. Over a series of 12 stories, Davis visits her great aunt in Jamaica, endures a cruel prank by close friends and deals with her stubborn grandparents.”
10. The Skin We're In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power
By: Desmond Cole
“The Skin We're In, a new book by award-winning journalist, activist and author Desmond Cole, is a look at racism in Canada and its lasting impact. It's a story of confrontation, sometimes in public meetings and sometimes using the written word, but also one of listening and bearing witness. The former Toronto Star columnist has written before about racial profiling by police in that city and its effect on his life. In this book, he digs more deeply into the topic and challenges Canada to make some significant changes. Watch Adrian Harewood's interview with Desmond Cole on the program Our Ottawa.”
1. Anne | 28 Moments of Black Canadian History | Jean Augustine:
“Anne, based in Ottawa on the unceded and unsurrendered territories of the Algonquin people, is a recent graduate of the University of Ottawa. In addition to her anti-sexual violence advocacy with Students for Consent Culture Canada, Anne is committed to empowering women of colour especially, and advancing a feminism that is truly attentive to cultural variability. If you're interested in knowing more about Black history in Canada, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel:
Instagram @anne.moreau23 www.linkedin.com/in/anne-moreau23”
2. HISTORY OF | History of Black History Month
“Delve into the history of #BlackHistoryMonth and learn about the champions and heroes who stood up for their rights.”
3. My Favorite BLACK Youtubers! || Binge-Worthy Content Creators!
Keean | 28 Moments of Black Canadian History | The Dawn Settlement
“Keean is a student at Carleton university completing his final year of a Bachelor of Global and International Studies, specializing in Global Politics. Through the GraceKennedy Jamaican Birthright Programme, he spent a summer in Jamaica interning for its CEO. Upon returning, he applied for and received his dual citizenship, and is writing his undergraduate thesis on climate change’s effects in the Caribbean. After a master’s, he intends to work on shaping policy on climate refugees. Instagram @keeanlessard”
4. Laurena | 28 Moments of Black Canadian History | 1989 Black Wimmin Where & When We Enter / The Feast
“Laurena Finéus is a Caribbean-Canadian visual artist. Her work explores representations of womanhood, the Haitian diaspora and its archives. Finéus’ lived experiences are centered in each of her pieces in order to create safe spaces that engage and empower her key audience — the Haitian diaspora. Her mediums of choice are acrylic, oil and collage. Her work has been exhibited at Art Mur, The Annexe Gallery, Gallerie 115 and Paradigme to name a few. She is currently based in Ottawa, Ontario. Instagram @lvurena”
5. A celebration of black excellence in medicine and health care | Dr Annette Okpere
“In celebration of Black History Month 2020, RCGP member Dr Annette Okpere walks us through some stories of black excellence in medicine and health care. Dr Okpere states, "This list is in no way exhaustive, but gives a peek into the many ways in which the black race advances mankind. It's impossible to mention every black contribution to medicine and health care, and so the aim of this documentary is to inspire you to dig deeper into our history and propagate our narrative with pride."
6. The MOST IMPORTANT Conversation Of 2020 - Black History Panel (Full Version)
“At age 19, Anthony ONeal was deep in debt and short on hope with no direction of where his life was headed. But after hitting rock bottom, he turned his life around and committed to helping students find and pursue their passions. Since 2003, Anthony has helped hundreds of thousands of students make smart decisions with their money, relationships, and education to live a well-balanced life. He’s the national bestselling author of Graduate Survival Guide: 5 Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make in College, and travels the country spreading his encouraging message to help teens and young adults start their lives off right. His latest book, Debt Free Degree helps kids through college without student loans.”
7. Fitch | 28 Moments of Black Canadian History | Black Loyalists
“Fitch is a filmmaker based in Ottawa, Canada. Born in Haiti, his parents moved to Canada when he was very young in the hope of a better life. Fitch has been involved in the creative process since a young age, writing novelty and short stories since he was 11 years old. His passion for creating a story made him get into photography and visual arts which he's been doing since 2014. But with the feeling that still images were never enough, he moved to the next medium and started his filmmaking process. Through the medium of visual arts his goal is to tell stories that will impact, influence and educate in diverse levels of society. Instagram @the.architxct”
8. Viola Desmond | New Face on Canada's $10 Bill
“Viola Desmond has been called the "Rosa Parks of Canada.". Her story has been turned into a Heritage Minute by Historica Canada.”
9. David | 28 Moments of Black Canadian History | Viola Desmond
“David has been living in the National Capital Region for close to ten years, after having lived in Montreal and Edmonton. First drawn to politics, policy and public relations, David has had the chance to study, work and volunteer in private, public and not-for-public organizations in Ottawa. These days, his time and interests lean towards questions relating to equity, inclusion, diversity and co-creation. David remains curious and is always looking for ways to learn and unlearn from these themes and from people working in those fields; don’t hesitate to connect with him!
Online Activism and Black Creators
1. Justice in June
This resource was compiled by Autumn Gupta with Bryanna Wallace's oversight for the purpose of providing a starting place for individuals trying to become better allies.
Choose how much time you have each day to become more informed as step one to becoming an active ally to the black community. On this document are links to the learning resources and a schedule of what to do each day. Click on the following to jump directly to that info:
- 10 minutes
- 25 minutes
- 45 minutes
2. Taylor Cassidy : @taylorcassidyj (TikTok & Instagram)
Taylor Cassidy actively spreads positivity, self-love, and educates on the importance of Black History.
3. @thesocialgoodclub (Instagram)
“We’re a community of content creators and artists, working with experts in social impact to create a culture that engages, guides, and ignites social good.”
4. Alicia Garza: @chasinggarza (Instagram) & @aliciagarza (Twitter)
“Alicia believes that Black communities deserve what all communities deserve — to be powerful in every aspect of their lives. An innovator, strategist, organizer, and cheeseburger enthusiast, Alicia founded the Black Futures Lab to make Black communities powerful in politics. She is the co-creator of #BlackLivesMatter and the Black Lives Matter Global Network, the Strategy & Partnerships Director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and the co-founder of Supermajority, She shares her thoughts on politics and pop culture on her podcast, Lady Don’t Take No. She warns you — hashtags don’t start movements. People do.”
5. Rachel Cargle: @rachel.cargle (Instagram) & @RachelCargle (Twitter)
“Rachel Cargle is an Akron, Ohio born public academic, writer, and lecturer. Her activist and academic work are rooted in providing intellectual discourse, tools, and resources that explore the intersection of race and womanhood. Her social media platforms engage a community of over 1.8 million through which Rachel's guides conversations, encourages critical thinking and nurtures meaningful engagement with people all over the world. Her upcoming book, I Don’t Want Your Love and Light with The Dial Press/Penguin Random House, is an examination of feminism through the lens of race and how we are in relationship with ourselves and one another.”
6. Ijeoma Oluo: @ijeomaoluo (Instagram)
“Ijeoma Oluo is a Seattle-based writer, speaker, and Internet Yeller. She’s the author of the New York Times Best-Seller So You Want to Talk about Race, published in January by Seal Press. Named one of the Root’s 100 Most Influential African Americans in 2017, one of the Most Influential People in Seattle-by-Seattle Magazine, one of the 50 Most Influential Women in Seattle by Seattle Met, and winner of the of the 2018 Feminist Humanist Award by the American Humanist Society, Oluo’s work focuses primarily on issues of race and identity, feminism, social and mental health, social justice, the arts, and personal essay. Her writing has been featured in The Washington Post, NBC News, Elle Magazine, TIME, The Stranger, and the Guardian, among other outlets”
7. Layla The Ancestress: @laylafsaad (Instagram)
“Layla Saad is an author, speaker & teacher on the topics of race, identity, leadership, personal transformation & social change.”
8. Dr. Shola Mos-Shogbamimu: @SholaMos1 (Twitter)
“Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu is a political & women’s rights activist, taught intersectional feminism to female refugees and asylum seekers; scrutinizes government policies from a gender and diversity inclusion perspective; and co-organises women's marches and social campaigns. She is also a New York Attorney and Solicitor of England & Wales with broad expertise in the financial services industry, writer, public speaker and political commentator featured in mainstream and online media. She founded the Women in Leadership publication as a platform to drive positive change on topical issues that impact women globally through inspiring personal leadership journeys; and established She@LawTalks to promote women & BAME leadership in the legal profession through universities and secondary schools. An academic enthusiast, she has an Executive MBA (Cambridge); PhD (Birkbeck); LLM (London School of Economics & Political Science); MA (Westminster) and LLB Hons (Buckingham University).”
9. Mireille Cassandra Harper: @mireillecharpe (Instagram & Twitter)
“I'm passionate about inclusion, representation, equality and diversity, and eager to bring these into my industry. I'm a sensitivity reader for both internal D&I guidelines and written works, having worked with DK and Bloomsbury. In this same vein, I'm all about getting individuals and organisations the recognition they deserve. As a PR and communications consultant, I've worked with the likes of Punch Records, BYP Network, Catalyst Collective, ShoutOut Network and Simmer Down on press campaigns.”
10. Khadija Mbowe: @khadija.mbowe (Instagram)
“Gambian-Canadian-American performer Khadija Mbowe is a charismatic and dynamic singer, entertainer, educator, writer and all around creative. She has studied and performed several styles of music including jazz, opera, musical theatre, and many contemporary works as well as writing her own songs. Khadija has been featured in varying roles and performances, from playing “Flora" in Opera by Request's La Traviata, to paying tribute to Jazz icon Billie Holiday with the Toronto Concert Orchestra at Casa Loma, to working with established operatic artist Angel Joy Blue in her ‘Generation Next’ recital series.
She is also a content creator using her voice and social media platforms to entertain and educate whenever she can. Writing, filming, producing, editing, and staring in her own projects on a weekly basis. Her growing YouTube channel has over 1,00,000 views and counting. Khadija is also an advocate for equity and inclusion in all aspects of the performing arts and has collaborated with many artists to organize events and create more performance opportunities for singers and instrumentalists alike.”
Black-Owned Businesses (London Community)
London has a number of incredible Black-owned businesses. Please take some time to support local.
1. Canadian Heritage
“Every February, Canadians are invited to participate in Black History Month festivities and events that honour the legacy of Black Canadians, past and present.
The 2020 theme for Black History Month is: "Canadians of African Descent: Going forward, guided by the past." This was inspired by the theme of the United Nations’. International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024).”
2. Congress of Black Women of Canada
“February 2018 marks the 22nd anniversary since Black History Month was first officially celebrated by the Government of Canada. The Honourable Jean Augustine, who was the first black Canadian woman, elected to Parliament, introduced the motion to the House of Commons to recognize the month-long celebration. The motion was carried unanimously in December 1995. The Government of Canada officially celebrated Black History Month in 1996.
All Canadians are invited to participate in Black History Month festivities and events that honour the legacy of black Canadians, past and present.