Black History Month at Citadel
As most people know, February is Black History Month. During this time, it’s important to acknowledge the important Black leaders in the Halifax community as well as look back into the past and recognize the people of colour whose voices weren’t heard. We all as a community need to recognize the history of being Black and the hardships faced. Acknowledging this can create a future with more peace and harmony.
There’s a lot happening at Citadel this month to recognize Black History Month. Members of the Citadel Youth leaders Club made posters about local Black leaders, while also putting up quotes from those leaders directed to students at Citadel. For everyone who loves spirit weeks, take part in this month’s themes on the week of February 22nd put on by the KTS. For Tuesday, wear clothes from local Black owned businesses. If you don’t have any, you can buy some on Monday and Tuesday at school. Make sure to keep your eyes open for more exciting events, maybe there’ll be a black excellence assembly. You can also check out the Black Excellence board in the lobby showcasing many students with bright futures who are a part of making Black history!
Black history in Nova Scotia dates back to the 1700s. After the American revolution and the war of 1815, Black migrants came to settle in Nova Scotia. African Americans also came to Nova Scotia to escape slavery and find freedom, described in “The Book of Negroes”. These newcomers weren’t welcome in the society of the time and it made it hard to find the freedom they were promised. But, many Black communities were formed, such as one of the most famous, Africville.
Africville was a vibrant community on the outskirts of Halifax right on the Bedford Basin. Despite much neglect from the government and lack of resources, residents of the community made the most of it. Through the years, an infectious disease hospital, a slaughterhouse, the Rockhead Prison as well as disposal pits were placed near the community because the other more privileged areas of the city didn’t want it near them. This is a case of environmental racism and it affects many areas across Nova Scotia, mainly Black and Indigenous communities. You can learn more about environmental racism by watching “There’s something in the Water'' on Netflix with Halifax’s own Elliot Page.
Africville was destroyed in the 1960s and people have been protesting since, demanding reparations. The story of Africville is an extreme example of racism and reflects a lot of the segregation and disparity between races of the time.
There is so much inspiration in our community in the form of Black leadership. It’s so amazing to see so many changemakers making history through entrepreneurship, the arts, activism and other fields. In our own school on the Black Excellence board, you can see the faces of many young leaders going into university. Being Black affects leaders in many ways. When talking with Solitha Shortte, entrepreneur and model, she said that because of the lack of acceptance, it makes you question if you’re really good enough. It’s important to dream big even when judgements are placed against you.
As of recently, there has been a lot of talk about supporting local. Due to the current pandemic lots of local businesses have been struggling. Something important in the recent months has been shopping at Black owned businesses. The need to support these businesses comes both from the pandemic, as said before, but also because of the need to listen and promote the voices of people of colour in our community. There are plenty of local Black owned businesses in Halifax, and here are some that we would recommend:
Family Over Fame
We Been Here
Apt 3 Espresso Bar
Eunoia Lifestyle Shop
Mary’s African Cuisine
Jamaica Lee Style Food Truck
Kings and Queens Natural product
Fire and Desire Candle Co
Tyler Simmonds Clothing
All in all, Black history is more than acknowledging that Black lives matter. It’s important to look back on the successes of African Canadians as well as acknowledging the injustices. For the future, there is lots to be done, but social justice should be a priority as it is interrelated with many other issues our planet is facing.