According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, Black History Month originated in the USA in February 1926, created by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, an African American historian, as a weeklong celebration of Black History. Dr. Woodson chose February because it is the birth month of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Officially recognized in Canada on the 4th of March in 2008, Black History month is a time of remembrance and celebration.
Unfortunately, a common misconception is that Black History Month is not necessary in Canada due to our proximity to the United States of America. In reality, Black History Month is when many people first learn of the historical similarities between Canada and the United States of America. The Similarities between the two countries include colonization, slavery, and the ignorance of contributions made by Black Canadian artists. For example, some of our most overlooked Black Canadian pioneers are Edward Mitchell Bannister, Audrey Dear- Hesson, and Edith Macdonald Brown.
Edward Mitchell Bannister, born in Canada in 1901, was an oil painter of the American Barbizon school. Bannister's oil paintings depict pastoral landscapes.
Audrey Dear, born in Halifax in 1929, was the first black Canadian to graduate from NSCAD, the Nova Scotia College of Art, majoring in crafts (jewelry, metalwork, woodcarving, and pottery). Dear is a practical craft artist whose works include: jewelry, textile, and sculpture.
Edith Hester Macdonald-Brown, born in 1880 in Africville (near Halifax), is the first recorded Black female painter in Canada's history.
Each of the artists mentioned has richly contributed to our current artistic landscape and deserves to be honored and celebrated.
Since this year's Black History Month theme is Black Futures, here are two Black History Month activities.
Black History Month writing activity #1:
Grab a piece of paper and a pen
Look up Black Canadian contemporary artists and their art
Write a short story about a fictional discussion between yourself and the artist.
Black History Month activity #2:
Look through the Black History database and find an event/ person who interests you
Write an educational piece exploring an event/ person you have not previously known.
When celebrating Black History Month, ask yourself: what is possible when we open our eyes and allow ourselves to see the world, not just as it is but as it can be?
Black History Month is a chance to learn, observe and celebrate the contributions Black people have made not only in Canada but also around the world. Remembering history prevents us from repeating the same mistakes, while celebrating achievements, keeps us hopeful.
Join us in celebrating Black History Month! Contact The Concerned Kids about booking our Special Black History Month presentation.
Here are some links for further reading