Saturday night marked the end of this year’s Black History Month events in Brantford. Sydenham Street United Church hosted the Black History Month wrap-up party. Over a hundred people attended the party, which had musical performances, inspirational readings and a Caribbean style meal.
The prevailing feelings of the evening were joy and remembrance. It was the celebration of the lives and accomplishments of African-Canadians throughout the nation and more specifically, Brantford, and the looking back on all their triumphs and struggles and the inspirations they impart.
Yvonne Wright, the chair of the planning committee was also the MC for the night. One man’s performance of John Lennon’s “Imagine” left an inspiring and hopeful reminder that a better world is possible. Donnaree Douglas spoke about Viola Desmond, a woman from Halifax who refused to give up her seat in a movie theatre, and the change that her actions carried.
This year, Brantford’s committee went bigger than other years and had a variety of events and topics. The festivities opened with a kick-off service on February 3 at Sydenham Street United Church, setting the tone of a celebration that continued throughout the whole month. A discussion panel was held at Nipissing on February 13 which included a video produced by Laurier Brantford’s own Rebecca Goldout. The video included a month’s worth of interviews around the community on what black history means to people and is expected to be shared with the public soon. A film festival was also held on Saturday, February 6.
The focus of this year’s celebration was to relish the success of African-Canadians and tell the history of slavery and its abolishment in Canada. While this annual event touches hearts and fills people with happiness and pride all over the world, it certainly is not without its detractors. Morgan Freeman is often the first that comes to mind, with his quote, “Black history is American history.”
The thought is that having a separate month devoted to black history only furthers segregation and racism in the world. This has and will continue to be debated for as long as this month is celebrated. But what remains clear is that there are many in Brantford who identify with the themes of the month and hold them dear to their hearts.