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March 4, 2011

Black History Month in Review

For various reasons, including a week at Winterlude in Ottawa that I will write about next week, I didn’t write about February Black History Month.  But today I will review some of the February activity. 

In North Bay the African – Canadian Culture Club at Nipissing University had its 4th Annual event at the Nipissing Theatre on February 29th.  The North Bay and District Multicultural Centre sponsored a Black History Month “Education Through Entertainment” event on February 11 at the Nipissing Theatre.  Entertainment, dance, fashion & refreshments were featured. 

Fergie Jenkins Stamp 

A stamp commemorating the remarkable Ferguson Jenkins from Chatham was launched in February.  Fergie played Major League Baseball for 18 seasons beginning in 1965 and had 6  twenty game seasons among other achievements.  He is the only pitcher with over 3000 strikeouts and under 1000 career walks.  At the end of his career he was traded to the Texas Rangers as an over the hill player and he won 25 games and was Comeback Player of the Year. 

New stamp recognizing Ferguson Jenkins during Black History Month 2011

Fergie was an all round athlete and played for the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team on occasion in the off season.  He was the first Commissioner of the Canadian Baseball League and has served as a analyst on Major League Baseball T.V. 

He has also been a leader in numerous charitable organizations including the Ferguson Jenkins Foundation. He was the first Canadian to win the Cy Young Award and the only Canadian in the Major League National Hall of Fame and has numerous other awards including the Order of Canada.(shown on the stamp)  The stamp is his latest honour.  I saw him on the CBC in an interview with Peter Mansbridge and was most impressed.  For further information log on to fergiejenkins.ca . 

Dr. Carrie Best  Stamp 

The black human rights pioneer from New Glasgow Nova Scotia also had a stamp produced for her last Month. 

New stamp recognizing Carrie Best during Black History Month 2011

Carrie was among other things a Director of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission. She lived her life as a poet, author, journalist and activist until her death in 2001.  She received several honorary doctorates, the Order of Canada & the Queen Elizabeth medal. The stamp is recognition of her overall achievement. 

William Hubbard First Black Canadian Councillor 

Mark Maloney who is writing a history of Toronto Mayors wrote a Black History Month article in the Toronto Star about the remarkable William Hubbard, a son of slaves. In the early 1870s as a young man he saved the noted Toronto Abolitionist, newspaper man & Father of Confederation George Brown from an accident.  Brown became a friend and supporter.

A few years later at age 51 Hubbard ran as a councillor and lost.  He won the following year and again 14 times.  He became a member of the 4 member Board of Control.  Over the years he was responsible for the passing of over 100 civic initiatives including better transit, fire protection and publicly owned hydro and water systems.  He never ran to be Mayor according to author Maloney. 

His achievement was remarkable in a city where discrimination was rampant into the 1940s. A painting of William Hubbard hangs in the Mayor’s Office in City Hall and he has been recognized in other ways over the years. 

Canada’s First Black Mayor Dr. S.F. Monestime 

Dr. Monestime the Haitian doctor who settled in Mattawa 60 years ago this year and became Canada’s first black mayor for years was recognized in 2009 on Mattawa’s 125th birthday. 

Dr. Monestime who died in 1977 was remembered on the 100th anniversary of his birth in 1909 when the Mattawa Council Chamber & Mattawa’s Main Street were named after him for his work as a Doctor, Mayor, provincial politician & founder of the Algonquin Nursing Home. 

The book I wrote commemorating his life – Where Rivers Meet – has sold widely.  Copies are still available in Mattawa & at Gullivers Books & Toys and One Stop Books in the North Bay Mall & elsewhere including online at www.pastforward.ca.  The original article I wrote on him is included in my new book Voices From the Past – available at the locations above. 

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