THE ONGOING INVISIBILITY OF BLACK CANADIANS

Urban Faith | 2/14/2019 | Warren Clarke, Carleton University and Nadine Powell, Carleton University
iVchan (Posted by) Level 3
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The first meeting of what would later become the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) took place in 1905 in Fort Erie near Niagara Falls, Canada. Legendary thinkers such as W.E.B. Du Bois attended.

Although the social justice movement for the advancement of Black Americans was initially named the Niagara Movement, based on that first meeting in Canada, there was no mention of Black Canadians at this historic meeting.

Story - Meeting - Invisibility - Black - Canadians

The story of this meeting helps to demonstrate the ongoing invisibility of Black Canadians both within Canada, across North America and internationally.

American women at the 2nd Niagara Movement Conference which took place in the U.S. at Harpers Ferry: Mrs. Gertrude Wright Morgan (seated) and (left to right) Mrs. O.M. Waller, Mrs. H.F.M. Murray, Mrs. Mollie Lewis Kelan, Mrs. Ida D. Bailey, Miss Sadie Shorter, and Mrs. Charlotte Hershaw.

Connection - Canada - US - Black - Canadians

Given the strong geographical connection between Canada and the U.S., it is reasonable to question why Black Canadians are missing from the Niagara Movement’s historical narrative.

Their absence in this history highlights the erasure of the contributions of Indigenous, Black people and other racialized peoples in Canada. This Canadian historical narrative, as Canadian sociologist Rinaldo Walcott suggests, has effectively “invisibilized” the Black presence in Canada.

Book - Black - Who - Walcott - NAACP

In his book, Black Like Who?, Walcott speculates that the NAACP disallowed Black Canadians from attending this first meeting, despite their attempts to engage in dialogue with the organizers. Walcott writes that there were Black people in Canada who had both heard of and wanted to participate in the movement. However, he believes they were not welcomed.

Many know that Black Americans faced racist laws meant to segregate and oppress their existence, but many do not realize that Black Canadians also faced the hardship of anti-Black racism or the extent to which they suffered.

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