Black History Month is a time to celebrate and pause as we recognize the many achievements of Black Canadians who through history have done so much to make Canada the diverse place it is today. Every February we mark this month dating back to 1926, when time was set aside to honour the accomplishments of African Americans and to heighten awareness of Black History in the United States. Celebrations of Black history began in Canada, shortly thereafter.
It wasn't until December of 1995 that the House of Commons officially recognized February as Black History Month in Canada, following a motion introduced by the Jean Augustine, the first Black Canadian woman elected to Parliament.
Once considered a destination for freedom seekers, Chatham-Kent is home to some of the most successful Black settlements in Canadian History. It is important to recognize Chatham-Kent's significant Black historical figures and our role in the underground railroad. Today, three historic sites contribute to the Chatham-Kent Underground Railroad story. Although all locations are currently closed to the public due to COVID-19, you are encouraged to visit them virtually.
Buxton Museum is Ontario's second largest national historic site, which is home to one of the last standing schoolhouses, an 1852 log cabin, 1853 barn, church, cemetery, Liberty Bell, and museum.
The Black Mecca Museum is run by the Chatham-Kent Black Historical Society. The Black Mecca Museum shares the emotional journey of Chatham's Black community from the end of the 18th century to present day.
Podcast: The All-Star Baseball Champs You've Never Heard Of
National Geographic Contributing Writer and award-winning travel journalist Heather Greenwood Davis takes us to Chatham, Ontario to learn about this incredible team's run for the championship. Heather highlights Canada's shockingly little-known Black history, its role in North American civil rights, and the continuous fight to get these men and women the recognition they deserve.
Uncle Tom's Cabin Historic Site is located on the Sydenham River near Dresden, Ontario. Uncle Tom's Cabin Historic Site takes its name from Harriet Beecher Stowe's 1852 novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, which was loosely based on Josiah Henson's life. Henson is a significant historical figure and was an important leader for Canada's growing Black community.
Esi Edugyen Lecture
Esi Edugyan is the author that discusses the complicated truths about race and belonging through highly detailed and extensively researched stories. There are several pre-recorded lectures available where Esi will provide insight on her writing process and researching black history, a virtual visit to
Uncle Tom's Cabin Historic Site, and a question-and-answer segment with youth and leaders from Ontario's Black heritage community. Screenings for this 70-minute event will be available for a limited time only. Pre-registration is required.
February 18, 2021 from 5 to 9:30 p.m.
February 23, 2021 from 5 to 9:30 p.m.
Other Events and Resources
The North Star: Finding Black Mecca is a documentary made available to Chatham-Kent residents from the Toronto Black Film Festival from Feb. 10 to Feb. 21. The documentary features interviews from locals like David Tatsu, Shannon Prince, Bryan Prince, Dorothy Wright Wallace and Samantha Meredith. The documentary also features singer Chudi Harris and Polaris Prize nominee Aquakultre's original song for the film called "Summer Night Songs." The music video for "Summer Night Songs" uses footage from the 2019 Buxton Homecoming.
Celebrating Black Lives: Community Quilt Project - TAG will be showcasing a variety of submissions for a participatory artwork displayed in the window of ARTspace for the month of February. A donation will be made for each participating artist involved to support the distribution of the film "The North Star: Finding Black Mecca."
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