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items from Black history sites all across Chatham-Kent
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Black History Month in Chatham-Kent

Black History Month takes place each February, offering at time for reflection and celebration of the many achievements of Black Canadians who have done so much to make Canada the diverse place it is today. 

Black History Month dates 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, but 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 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. Today, three historic sites contribute to the Chatham-Kent Underground Railroad story and year-round, we recognize Chatham-Kent's significant Black historical figures, the community's role in the Underground Railroad. and celebrate the contributions of Black Canadians. 

Celebrating Black History Month in Chatham-Kent

Black History Flag Raising 

  • Thursday, February 1, 12pm - 12:30pm
  • Civic Centre, 315 King St. W., Chatham 
  • Join the Josiah Henson Museum of African-Canadian History, the Buxton National Historic Site & Museum, and the Chatham-Kent Black Historical Society & Black Mecca Museum to honour the start of Black History Month
  • Learn about what is happening in Chatham-Kent throughout the month.

Chatham-Kent Public Library - Read Black Voices

  • Celebrate the diversity of Black experiences by reading non-fiction and fiction books by Black authors and illustrators. Participants will earn a ballot when they borrow a book with the Black Voices bookmark for a chance to win a prize pack.

Tilbury Branch - Black History Month Quizzes

  • Drop-in to Tilbury Branch each week in February for a new quiz about notable black figures and historic events.

Thursday, February 8, 10am - 11am

  • Buxton Museum Storytime at Chatham Branch
  • Join us for a special storytime celebrating black history month with special guests from the Buxton Museum. Best suited to children 5 and younger. Drop in. 

Thursday, February 22, 6:30pm - 7:15pm

  • Dresden Branch - Twilight Tales 
  • February is Black History Month, and we have all kinds of treasures to help celebrate. Play the jumbo Match-Up game of famous athletes, entertainers and inventors.
  • Registration is not necessary.

Videos Celebrating Chatham-Kent Black History

Black History in Southwestern Ontario - Seeing Canada, with Brandy Yanchyk 

Terrell the Barber - Black History - The Global Barber, with Cedric Small 

The Global Barber - Black Mecca Museum - The Global Barber, with Cedric Small 

The Global Barber - Buxton Museum - The Global Barber, with Cedric Small 

The Global Barber - BME Freedom Park - The Global Barber, with Cedric Small 

Still Standing: Buxton, Ontario - Still Standing, with Jonny Harris 

Buxton, Ontario: Still Standing - Still Standing, with Jonny Harris 

Still Standing: Jonny Harris Meets Cleata Morris - Still Standing, with Jonny Harris

Buxton National Historic Site & Museum is Ontario's second largest national historic site and is a tribute to the Elgin Settlement, established in 1849 by Rev. William King. The site is home to one of the last standing schoolhouses, as well as an 1852 log cabin, a 1853 barn, a community church and cemetery, the Liberty Bell, and museum. Download the Driftscape app on your mobile device to enhance your tour of the site and surrounding areas. Book your virtual tour here or take a public on-site tour Monday - Friday between 1:00pm and 4:30pm. 

Chatham-Kent Black Historical Society and Black Mecca Museum shares the emotional journey of Chatham's Black community that settled along McGregor's Creek at end of the 18th century to present day.  CKBHS is dedicated to the discovery, research and preservation of Chatham-Kent's Black history and it's contribution to business, education, medicine, sport as well as literary and cultural arts. A visit includes not only a self-guided tour of the museum, but also a guided walking tour (weather permitting) of a number of significant locations within the community, including BME Freedom Park. During the month of February staff will be doing presentations throughout the community, contact them in advance to plan your visit.

Josiah Henson Museum of African-Canadian History is the site of the Dawn Settlement built by Rev. Josiah Henson in 1841. The Interpretive Centre includes a collection of 19th century artifacts and books, a rare early edition of Henson's autobiography and a signed portrait of Queen Victoria which she presented to him. In addition to the Josiah Henson House, the site also includes the Sawmill, the Smokehouse and the Pioneer Church and Cemetery. Contact the site directly about group visits.