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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 occurs every February and is a time to pause and to celebrate 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. 

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. In-person general tours at the Josiah Henson Museum of African-Canadian History February 7-10, 2023, from 10 am to 3 pm; virtual tours are sold out for February 2023 but virtual tours for March are available here. Contact the site directly about group visits.

Celebrating Black History Month in Chatham-Kent

Contact the Underground Railroad sites directly to find out about their events and check back for community events.

Ongoing Virtual Exhibit - "Let us march on till victory is won" the Struggle for Racial Equity in CK and Ontario available through the Chatham-Kent Museum 

February 1 2023 12:00pm - Flag raising ceremony at Chatham-Kent Civic Centre (315 King St W, Chatham, ON N7M 5K8) 

February 11 2023 10:00am - CK Public Library: Black History Month Storytime at the Chatham Branch (120 Queen St. Chatham) celebrates the 200th birthday of Mary Ann Shadd Cary. Registration is required.

February 12 2023 7:00pm - Freedom! The Spirit and Legacy of Black Music at Chatham Capitol Theatre (238 King St W, Chatham, ON) Purchase tickets here. 

February 9 2023 7:00pm - Black History Month Jeopardy Game Night at Red Barn Brewing Company. Purchase tickets here.

February 14 2023 12:00pm-3:00pm (Virtual) - Douglass Day: Virtual Transcribing Event allows you to assist in transcribing the rich  and varied collections of Mary Ann Shadd Cary. Join here.

February 14 2023 7:00pm - "An Evening with Jamaal Cody" concert at Red Barn Brewing Company. Purchase tickets here.

March 2 2023 10:00am-12:30pm (Virtual)Black Voices (In)Justice: Supporting Black Youth Representation in the Legal Profession—Commemorating lawyer, publisher and activist Mary Ann Shadd Cary available through Josiah Henson Museum of African-Canadian History

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