Black History Month a journey of reconciliation

Feb 1, 2013 | News

PHOTO BY Charles  Henry Alston circa 1943. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. From the National Archives and Records Association in Maryland.

PHOTO BY Charles Henry Alston circa 1943. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, From the National Archives and Records Association in Maryland. Carter G. Woodson, illustrated above, was a black American historian who created Negro History Week (later extended and renamed Black History Month).

by Jenifer Alvarez

February 1 marks the beginning of Black History Month in Canada and there are many  events around Toronto.

Multi-cultural Toronto knows how to put on a great line-up of events, soirees, and screenings to entice all Black History Month knowledge seekers as seen on the city’s website.

 The Bloor Cinema has amped up its schedule with a variety of films focused on civil rights, discrimination, redemption and cultural enlightenment.

One film opening tonight is The Last White Knight, written and directed by Toronto native Paul Saltzman.

Saltzman was 21 when he decided to drive from Toronto to Mississippi to volunteer as a civil rights worker in the fight for equality alongside other African-Americans in 1965. The trip resulted in Saltzman being physically attacked by members of the Ku Klux Klan.

The film centers on Saltzman’s reconciliation journey back into the American South to find the man who attacked him.

Leslie La Rose, 21, a Humber early childhood education student, said now that she knows about The Last White Knight, she will try to go to watch it.

“I think it’s great to definitely highlight someone who is not black going to advocate for black people and just to be marching against you know, hate against black people. I didn’t even know this movie existed. Do I feel like he will get anything out of it? I don’t know if he’s going to get anything reconciled, but that’s interesting that he’s going back there to figure that out,” said La Rose.

The film opens at the Bloor Cinema tonight at 6:30 p.m. with Saltzman in attendance for a question and answer period.

Spoken word artist and motivational speaker Dwayne Morgan will speak tonight st at the Harbourfront Centre at 8 p.m.

Morgan, will release his seventh book, a memoir, entitled Everyday Excellence, as part of the Harbourfront’s Kuumba series.

““I think, in terms of Black History stuff, I think I have done a lot of work just around Black History education and around why the month is important. I’ve been recognized on black history posters for the contribution that I have made to the arts and to promoting culture in Toronto and beyond,” said Morgan.

Morgan also said his book is about encouraging others to work towards positivity and success in their everyday lives.

“The book itself is really about the fact that the people we see as success stories aren’t necessarily any more successful than anybody else. There are things that, you know, people do on a daily basis that’s become their habits that lead to excellence and it’s a matter of what are some of the things that we can begin to do to create excellence in our own lives?” added Morgan.

The Kuumba series, part of the TD Canada Trust Then & Now series, is a cultural showcase that includes films, exhibitions, concerts, and performances done by a vast array of Canadian and international artists.

As stated on the Government of Canada website, Black History Month is a time to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments achieved by Black Canadians throughout history and to remember that slavery once existed in our nation at one time.

This time of remembrance has come a long way since its first establishment by Carter G. Woodson, an African-American writer, historian and the “Father of Black History Month”, in 1926.

Initially, Black History Month was only a weeklong celebration called Negro History Week. After widespread support and popularity and extensive lobbying, Negro History Week was renamed and extended to the entire month of February.