African-American Carter G. Woodson conceived the idea of setting aside a time dedicated to African and African-American history in 1926. Over time, it expanded to become Black History Month. The idea arrived in Canada by 1950 via Toronto railroad porters, but it didn't become a part of the whole community until the Ontario Black History Society petitioned the City of Toronto in 1979 to have February proclaimed Black History Month.
Now it is commemorated across Canada every February, with events that look back on African-Canadian history and celebrate black culture.
This year marks the bicentennial anniversary of the War of 1812, and Black History Month will focus on the contribution of black soldiers in the fight for Canada. Canada Post has also released its latest commemorative stamps for Black History Month, which this year honour the Alberta rancher-turned-folk-hero John Ware, who established one of the earliest ranches in the future province during the 1890s, and Viola Desmond, who was dragged out of a Nova Scotia theatre and arrested in 1945 for sitting in the "whites-only" section. (Last year, Desmond received a posthumous pardon from the Nova Scotia government - she had been convicted of tax evasion for having defrauded the government of the additional one-cent tax for tickets bought in the whites' section of the theatre.)
There are many events taking place throughout the next four weeks to mark Black History Month. We've shared a few below, but be sure to check local calendars to see what's happening near you. If you have any events you'd like to share, post them in our comments section below, or add them to our Facebook feed at facebook.com/strombo or our Twitter feed at @strombodotcom.
Thursday, February 9, 7:00 p.m. - Screening: The Godmother of Rock & Roll: Sister Rosetta Tharpe - Vancity Theatre , 1181 Seymour Street, filmguide.viff.org
February 9 to March 10, 8:00 p.m. (Saturday matinees at 2:00 p.m.) - Intimate Apparel, a play about a young black woman seeking to pursue her dreams, at the Arts Club Theatre, Granville Island Stage, artsclub.com
Monday, February 27, 7:00 p.m. - Screening: The Mighty Jerome, a look at one of Canada's most celebrated athletes, at the Vancouver Public Library, 350 West Georgia Street, nfb.ca
Saturday, February 4, 6:00 p.m. - Screening: The Soul (slave) Trade, from the Castles of Ghana, West Africa to the Americas on to the Caribbean - University of Alberta, Campus Saint-Jean, The Grand Salong, 8406-91 Street, nbccedmonton.ca
Saturday, February 4 to Saturday, March 3 - Exhibition: 5 Artists, 1 Love - Black History Month Art Exhibit - Art Gallery of Alberta, 5artists1love.com
Friday, February 10, 3:30 p.m. - Protest, Sites of Promise: Race and Place in Canadian Cities, 1900-1950 - University of Alberta, 150 TELUS Centre, aict.ualberta.ca
Thursday, February 2, 7:00 p.m. - An Evening With Pam Grier, hosted by the Canadian Film Centre and Clement Virgo - Virgo will interview black screen icon Pam Grier (Jackie Brown, Coffy, Foxy Brown) at the Cineplex Odeon Varsity Cinemas, 55 Bloor Street West, cfccreates.com
Pam will also be in the red chair tomorrow night, where she'll talk to George about her career and the role of black women in Hollywood, so be sure to tune in to the show!
Saturday, February 4 to Sunday, February 19 - Music, Magic, Clash: New Voices in the African Diaspora - a selection of film screenings from young black filmmakers at the TIFF Bell Lightbox cinema, 350 King Street West.tiff.net
Thursday, February 2, 7:00 p.m. -- Coloured Pictures in Family Frames, a play by Dolores Sandoval -- at Centre Culturel Georges-Vanier, 2450 Rue Workman.
Sunday, February 25, 2:00 p.m. - New Canadian Kid, a play by Dennis Foon presented by the Black Theatre Workshop - F.C. Smith Auditorium, Concordia University, 7141 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest, blacktheatreworkshop.ca
Thursday, February 2, 7:00 p.m. -- The Black Refugees to Nova Scotia from the War of 1812 -- A presentation by George Elliott Clarke with guest El Jones, Sponsored by Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Canada African Heritage Month/War of 1812 Speakers Series, Halifax North Public Library, 2285 Gottingen St, gov.ns.ca
Tuesday, February 21, 7:30 p.m. -- Remembering the Colored Hockey League of the Maritimes, 1895-1930 -- Auction, hockey game and presentation, sponsored by Black Ice Hockey and Sports Hall of Fame Society, Dalhousie Memorial Arena, 6185 South St., gov.ns.ca
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