Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – 50 Years Later

Today is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. A tribute by Jill Dennison

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Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. was a giant among men. He led by his words, his actions, and the way he lived his life. Today, I have the distinct privilege to welcome one of the most gifted bloggers I know and my very good friend, Jill Dennison, to Words To Captivate. Jill has taught college courses in the USA on Black History in America and is an ardent fan of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. On this 50th anniversary of MLK’s assassination, it is fitting that Jill shares with us how important this leader was in his own day and continues to be in the present because his work is not yet done. Thank you, Jill, for agreeing to be my guest today.

 

Every now and then an individual passes through this world who leaves behind an indelible mark, who is credited, deservingly, with having changed the world. Such an individual will be recorded in the annals of history long after the rest of us are but a vague and distant memory to future generations. Often, it seems, these individuals do not live long, leave much undone, but still, they made a difference far greater than those who may live to be a hundred. The life of one such man was cut short exactly fifty years ago today. That man was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

New York Times Article

There are numerous King biographies, some excellent. Many have written of his life, have paid tribute to him in a variety of ways. It is not my intent to add another to the tall stack, but merely to look at what it was that set MLK apart, that made him the shining star that influenced presidents and ordinary folk alike. And to pay a bit of tribute to a great man, and speak briefly of the legacy he left that, though it seems to be forgotten sometimes, is still with us today, even though Dr. King is not. Three things, I think, set Martin Luther King apart from the rest: his uncanny ability to know the right words for the right time, his oratory ‘gift’, and his peaceful, nonviolent approach.

MLK with a little girl

Some things cannot be learned – not from a textbook, not from parental or church guidance, nor even from life’s experiences. King’s timing in most things was impeccable, and it wasn’t something he learned, but rather just a knack he had. He knew when it was time to speak softly, but knew when it was time to raise his voice. He knew when the time and cause were right, such as when he organized the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955-56. He seemed to simply understand that Rosa Parks was the right cause and that the timing was right.

MLK + I have a dream quote

To this day, I cannot listen to King’s I Have A Dream speech without a chill running through me and tears welling in my eyes. Never before nor since have I heard anybody who could speak like Martin Luther King – not even John F. Kennedy, though he was an excellent orator. There was something about Martin, though, that made people listen, whether he was speaking quietly or booming into a microphone. You might not agree with what he was saying, but you could not help but listen. This, too, was a gift – it was not a learned skill, not even a talent really, not something practiced – it just was.

MLK in jail

Martin Luther King was, above all else, a peaceful activist. Despite this, he was arrested and sent to jail no less than 29 times during his life! One of those times was for driving 30 mph in a 25 mph zone – no racial profiling here! It was during one of his stints in the Birmingham, Alabama jail in 1963 that King penned what would become his most famous written document, Letter From A Birmingham Jail. He wrote the letter on newspaper margins, scraps of paper and smuggled-in legal pads. He had no notes or reference materials. His letter is timeless and so much of it still resonates today, 55 years later. For example, he called out the white church for being an “arch supporter of the status quo,” and castigated its ministers for failing to recognize the black man as their brother. We look at the evangelical Christian churches today and wish we could send a copy of King’s letter to each and every one. The letter is long … nearly 7,000 words … thus I cannot replicate it here but will include a link to the .pdf file for anyone who would like to read it.

https://web.cn.edu/kwheeler/documents/Letter_Birmingham_Jail.pdf

And later that year, in August, Martin gave his iconic I Have A Dream speech that touched the hearts of so many.

 

Many, perhaps most, believe that King was killed because he was becoming too radical, steering further than just wanting “whites only” signs taken down. His focus had expanded to include the war in Vietnam, and in 1968 he was trying to build an interracial coalition to end the war in Vietnam and force major economic reforms. There are many theories about his assassination that I steer clear of, for as with the assassination of JFK almost five years earlier, I suspect the full truth will never be known. I prefer, instead, to focus on his legacy, to remember and remind others of the timeless lessons that he left us. The essence of Martin Luther King’s legacy, I think, can be summed by a few of his most poignant quotes:

MLK Quote: Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

MLK Quote: The Ultimate measure of a man...

MLK Quote: In the end...

MLK Quote: Injustice anywhere...

MLK Quote: That old law...

MLK Quote: Darkness cannot drive...

Did Martin Luther King put an end to racism? No, of course not. But he showed the world that it is possible, with determination, strength, and courage, to make a difference without the use of violence. He proved to us that it is possible to love everyone as brothers if we just open our hearts and our minds. Sadly, far too many have forgotten this, and today when I look around, I see nobody with those innate qualities Dr. King had that gave him the power to change the world, to open people’s hearts and minds with words rather than guns. We need another Dr. Martin Luther King. After 50 years, we still miss Dr. Martin Luther King.

*************************

A Bit of MLK trivia …

• He skipped two grades and left for college before formally graduating high school. Entering Morehouse College at the age of 15, he was accepted as part of an early admittance program that was aimed to boost enrollment during the war. Dr. King received a bachelor’s degree at age 19.

• Upon marrying his wife, Coretta, he realized that it was not very easy for him to go on a honeymoon due to his skin color, so they ended up having it at a friend’s funeral parlor.

• On September 20, 1958, King was in Harlem signing copies of his new book, “Stride Toward Freedom,” in Blumstein’s department store when he was approached by Izola Ware Curry. The woman asked if he was Martin Luther King Jr. After he said yes, Curry said, “I’ve been looking for you for five years,” and she plunged a seven-inch letter opener into his chest. The tip of the blade came to rest alongside his aorta, and King underwent hours of delicate emergency surgery. Surgeons later told King that just one sneeze could have punctured the aorta and killed him. From his hospital bed where he convalesced for weeks, King issued a statement affirming his nonviolent principles and saying he felt no ill will toward his mentally ill attacker.

• In 1964, at the age of 35, King won the Nobel Peace Prize. To this day he is still the youngest male to ever receive it.

• On June 30, 1974, as Dr. King’s mother, 69-year-old Alberta Williams King played the organ at a Sunday service inside Ebenezer Baptist Church. Marcus Wayne Chenault Jr. rose from the front pew, drew two pistols and began to fire shots. One of the bullets struck and killed Ms. King, who died steps from where her son had preached nonviolence. The deranged gunman said that Christians were his enemy and that although he had received divine instructions to kill King’s father, who was in the congregation, he killed King’s mother instead because she was closer. The shooting also left a church deacon dead. Chenault received a death penalty sentence that was later changed to life imprisonment, in part due to the King family’s opposition to capital punishment.

• As a result of helping organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott that lasted 385 days, King was not only arrested but his house was also bombed.

• There are two places outside of the United States that celebrate MLK day: Toronto, Canada, and Hiroshima, Japan.

 

Canada’s Indigenous Heroes – Tommy Prince

Tommy Prince was Canada’s most decorated Indigenous war hero.

Thomas George Prince, war hero, Indigenous advocate

Thomas George Prince, war hero, Indigenous advocate (born 25 October 1915 in Petersfield, MB; died 25 November 1977 in Winnipeg, MB). Tommy Prince was Canada’s most-decorated Indigenous war veteran, having been awarded a total of 12 medals in the Second World War and the Korean War. Although homeless when he died, he was honored at his funeral by his province, his country and the governments of France, Italy and the United States.

Tommy Prince was born in a canvas tent in Petersfield, Manitoba, in October 1915, one of 11 children born to Harry and Elizabeth Prince of the Brokenhead Band of Ojibwa. He was a descendant of Peguis, the Salteaux Chief. When he was five, his family moved to the Brokenhead Indian Reserve (now known as Brokenhead Ojibway Reserve) in Scanterbury. Prince learned to be a superb marksman and an excellent tracker on the reserve. His father, a hunter and a trapper, taught him.

Prince applied to join the Canadian military several times but was rejected. Indigenous people faced widespread discrimination and that likely played a role in his rejection. He was finally accepted in the early years of the Second World War.

Tommy Prince and his unit.

Prince enlisted in the Canadian Army on 3 June 1940 and was assigned to the 1st Field Park Company of the Royal Canadian Engineers. By 1942 Prince was a sergeant with the Canadian Parachute Battalion. Posted to the 1st Canadian Special Service Battalion, he was among a select group of Canadian soldiers sent to train with an American unit to form a specialized assault team. They became the 1st Special Service Force (1st SSF), known to the enemy as the “Devil’s Brigade.” The name was adopted by Hollywood as the title of a 1968 portrayal of the elite unit. Prince was portrayed as “Chief.”

Tommy Prince in the field with the Brigade
Tommy Prince in the field with the Brigade (CBC.ca)

Prince distinguished himself with the 1st SSF in Italy and France, using the skills he’d learned growing up on the reserve. He displayed his covert abilities in a celebrated action near the front line in Anzio, Italy. In February 1944, he volunteered to run a communication line 1,400 meters out to an abandoned farmhouse that sat just 200 meters from a German artillery position. He set up an observation post in the farmhouse and for three days reported on German movements via a communication wire.

When the wire was severed during shelling, he disguised himself as a peasant farmer and pretended to work the land around the farmhouse. He stooped to tie his shoes and fixed the wire while German soldiers watched, oblivious to his true identity. At one point, he shook his fist at the Germans, and then at the Allies, pretending to be disgusted with both. His actions resulted in the destruction of four German tanks that had been firing on Allied troops.

In France in the summer of 1944, Prince endured a grueling trek across rugged terrain to locate an enemy camp. He traveled without food or water for 72 hours. He returned to the Allied position and led his brigade to the German encampment, resulting in the capture of more than 1,000 German soldiers.

Sergeant Tommy Prince, 1st Special Service Force aka The Devil's Brigade
Sergeant Tommy Prince, 1st Special Service Force aka The Devil’s Brigade (stoessis heroes)

When the fighting ended in France, Prince was summoned to Buckingham Palace, where King George VI decorated him with the Military Medal (MM) and, on behalf of the American president, the Silver Star with ribbon. He would also receive the 1939-1945 Star, the Italy Star, the France and Germany Star, the Defence Medal, the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with Clasp and the War Medal.

Prince was one of 59 Canadians who was awarded the Silver Star during the Second World War, only three of whom also possessed the Military Medal. Tommy Prince was honorably discharged on 15 June 1945 and returned to Canada.

At home, Prince faced racism from the Canadian government. As an Indigenous man, he was not allowed to vote in federal elections — in spite of his wartime service — and was refused the same benefits as other Canadian veterans.

He started a business, which briefly prospered. He left it in the hands of friends so he could serve as a spokesman for the Manitoba Indian Association, where he lobbied the federal government to change the Indian Act. Following his campaigning, he came home to discover that the business he’d entrusted to friends had failed in his absence.

Facing unemployment and discrimination, he re-enlisted in the military and served with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI).

Prince resumed his former rank and began training new recruits for the Korean War. He was then part of the first Canadian unit to land in Korea, where he served with a PPCLI rifle platoon. In Korea Prince led many “snatch patrols,” where a small group of soldiers would travel into enemy territory and launch sneak attacks before retreating. One overnight raid led to the capture of two enemy machine guns.

Suffering from bad knees, Prince returned to Canada for treatment in 1951. But he went back to Korea for a second tour in 1952. He was injured again and spent weeks in hospital, where he was still recovering when the Korea Armistice came into force in 1953, ending the fighting.

During two tours of duty in Korea, he won the Korean, Canadian Volunteer Service and United Nations Service medals.

He returned to Canada and remained in the army, serving at Winnipeg’s personnel depot, until September 1954, when he was honorably discharged.

Prince had a strong sense of civic duty and a fierce pride in his people. He dedicated himself to attaining increased educational and economic opportunities for Indigenous peoples. “All my life I had wanted to do something to help my people recover their good name. I wanted to show they were as good as any white man,” he said.

He was married and had five children. In 1955, he saw a man drowning at the Alexander Docks in Winnipeg and leaped in to save him.

Prince fell on hard times and spent his last years living in a Salvation Army shelter. He died at the Deer Lodge Hospital in Winnipeg on 25 November 1977. He was 62. Prince was buried in Brookside Cemetery, a military gravesite in Winnipeg. A delegation of Princess Patricia’s served as his pallbearers. Men from his reserve chanted the “Death of a Warrior” song as he was lowered into the grave. More than 500 people attended his funeral, including Manitoba’s lieutenant governor and the consuls from France, Italy and the US.

Tommy Prince in casket by Canada's Heritage Minutes
(YouTube)

His tombstone mentions two of the 12 medals he earned, which made him Canada’s most decorated Indigenous war veteran.

Street Sign in Winnipeg, Manitoba: SGT Tommy Prince St.
This street is located in Winnipeg, Manitoba. (Sgt Tommy Prince MM Memorial Unit 76 KVA Winnipeg, Manitoba – Blogspot)

Today’s Sources:

Macleans                                                                                                         http://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/canadian-encyclopedia-30-important-indigenous-leaders/

Historica Canada                                                                                     http://thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/tommy-prince/

 

Black History Month In Canada… Josiah Henson

Josiah Henson was born into slavery in Maryland and escaped to Upper Canada in 1830.

Josiah Henson – Spiritual Leader, Author, Founder

Josiah Henson, spiritual leader, author, founder of the Black community settlement at Dawn, Upper Canada/Canada West (born 15 June 1789 in Charles County, Maryland; died 5 May 1883 in Dresden, ON). Born enslaved, Henson escaped to Canada in 1830. He founded the Dawn Settlement near Dresden, Upper Canada, for American fugitives from enslavement. He and a group of associates organized a trade-labor school, the British-American Institute. He was active on the executive committee until the Institute closed in 1868. Henson served as Dawn’s spiritual leader and patriarch and made numerous fundraising trips to the United States and England. He published his autobiography in 1849, and he was allegedly Harriet Beecher Stowe’s model for the lead character in her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852).

Henson first tried to buy his freedom in 1825. His owner, Isaac Riley, needed money and sent Henson to escort a group of 18 enslaved persons to Kentucky. While in transit, the group could easily have escaped to Ohio and made themselves free, but Henson believed his owner’s offer of manumission (ownership of himself). Consequently, he would not allow the escape and was later disappointed when he realized that his owner had no intention of giving him his freedom. He was taken, along with his wife and four children, to New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1829 to be sold. Henson and his family fled to Upper Canada, reaching the Niagara Peninsula on 28 October 1830.

Henson and his family settled near Dresden, Upper Canada. With his leadership skills, he was able to command the support of abolitionists who helped him create the Dawn Settlement, a place for refugees from enslavement to gain the education and skills necessary for self-sufficiency and self-determination. It was Henson’s belief that Black persons needed to learn skills within their own community. In 1841, Henson and his partners purchased 200 acres of land, and in 1842, they established the British-American Institute. A central focus of the settlement, the school was created for students of all ages and was sustainably designed to train teachers while providing general education and trade-labor instruction to members of the community. The community of Dawn developed around the Institute, with many residents farming, attending the Institute, and working in sawmills, gristmills and in other local industries.

After the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, some members of the community returned or moved to the United States, though many remained at Dawn.

Henson’s autobiography The Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada (1849) was published in order to raise funds for the continuation of the Dawn Settlement. Many consider Henson’s autobiography to be the inspiration for the lead character in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Some have expressed concern over Josiah Henson as the model for the Uncle Tom character in Beecher Stowe’s novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Though written and published as an anti-slavery text, the book portrayed Black persons in a stereotypical manner.

Uncle Tom's Cabin-located in Dresden Ontario. The cabin was owned by Josiah Henson (former slave, author, abolitionist, minister) and the inspiration for Harnet Beecher Stowe's title character
Uncle Tom’s Cabin-located in Dresden Ontario. The cabin was owned by Josiah Henson (former slave, author, abolitionist, minister) and the inspiration for Harriet Beecher Stowe’s title character (panoramio.com)

Today’s Sources:

* CBC News Canada                                                            http://www.cbc.ca/news2/interactives/black-history-month/

* The Canadian Encyclopedia                                            http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/josiah-henson/

Black History Month In Canada… Dionne Brand

Dionne Brand a highly accomplished poet, writer, and social activist made Canada her home after migrating from Trinidad.

Dionne Brand – Poet, Writer, Educator, and Activist

Dionne Brand, poet, writer, filmmaker, educator and activist (born 7 January 1953 in Guayaguayare, Trinidad). Winner of the Governor General’s Award and the Griffin Poetry Prize, and former poet laureate of Toronto, Dionne Brand is considered one of Canada’s most accomplished poetic voices.
Continue reading “Black History Month In Canada… Dionne Brand”

Black History Month In Canada… Carrie Mae Best

Carrie Mae Best was born in Nova Scotia where she dedicated her life to the improvement of race relations in her province and Canada.

Carrie Mae Best – Human Rights Activist, Author, Publisher, Broadcaster

Carrie Mae Best (née Prevoe), OC, LLD, human rights activist, author, journalist, publisher and broadcaster (born 4 March 1903 in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia; died 24 July 2001 in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia). Sparked by incidents of racial discrimination, Carrie Best became a civil rights activist. Co-founder of The Clarion, the first newspaper in Nova Scotia that was owned and published by Black Canadians, she used the platform to advocate for Black rights. As the editor, she publicly supported Viola Desmond in her case against the Roseland Theatre. Best used her voice in radio and print to bring positive change to society in Nova Scotia and Canada.

Carrie Mae Prevoe grew up in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, in an era of racial discrimination. Although discrimination in Canada was less pronounced than in the United States, it was just as damaging and humiliating. Prevoe and her two brothers were encouraged by their parents, James and Georgina (Ashe) Prevoe, to study the history of African-Canadians and be proud of their Black heritage. Although they had not received good schooling themselves, the Prevoes emphasized the importance of education.

An intelligent child, Prevoe wrote her first poems at the age of four and often submitted her opinions in letters to the editors of local newspapers as a teenager. Unhappy with the racial stereotypes portrayed in popular books and local culture, Best sought out the work of African-American poets and historians.

Observing the calm strength and dignity of her mother, Prevoe knew from an early age that she would not accept the restrictions to which Blacks were subjected. Career choices for young women, in general, were limited, and even fewer options were available for non-white women. Prevoe considered nursing, but no Canadian schools accepted African-Canadians. She wasn’t interested in a teaching career in one of Nova Scotia’s segregated schools. And she refused to be a housekeeper for anyone other than herself.

Carrie married railway porter Albert Theophilus Best on 24 June 1925. They had one son, James Calbert Best, and later welcomed several foster children into their family: Berma, Emily, Sharon and Aubrey Marshall.

In December 1941, Carrie Best heard that several high school girls had been removed by force from the Roseland Theatre. The Black teens had attempted to sit in the “white only” section. Best was outraged. She vigorously argued against the racist policy to the Roseland Theatre’s owner, Norman Mason, in person and by letter, but her argument fell on deaf ears. It was time for Best to go to the movies.

A few days later, the 38-year-old and her son, Calbert, attempted to purchase tickets for the main floor of the theater. The cashier issued tickets for the balcony, the area reserved for Black patrons. Leaving the tickets on the counter, the mother and son walked into the auditorium. When the assistant manager demanded that they leave, the Bests refused and the police were called. Roughly hoisted from her seat by the officer, Best and her son were charged with disturbing the peace, convicted and fined. Best could now take legal action against the theater.

Filing a civil lawsuit that specified racial discrimination, Best claimed damages for assault and battery, damage to her coat and breach of contract. Mason and the Roseland Theatre Company Ltd. claimed that the Bests were trespassers without tickets. The case, heard on 12 May 1942, failed: the proprietor’s right to exclude anyone won out over the bigger issue of racism. The judge not only ignored the discrimination but also ordered Best to pay the defendant’s costs.

However, Best was not defeated. The persistent problems of racism and segregation would be publicly addressed by something arguably more powerful than the legal system: Best started a newspaper.

In 1946, Carrie Best and her son, Calbert, founded The Clarion, the first Nova Scotia newspaper owned and published by Black Canadians. Initially a 20- by 25-centimeter broadsheet, The Clarion reported on sports, news, social activities and other significant events. Incorporated in 1947, the paper placed emphasis on better race relations. For a decade, The Clarion covered many important issues and advocated for Black rights. In 1956, it was renamed The Negro Citizen and began national circulation.

Carrie Best slide with brief biographical information
(University Settlement)

* CBC News Canada                                                                http://www.cbc.ca/news2/interactives/black-history-month/

* The Canadian Encyclopedia                                                       http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/carrie-best/

Black History Month In Canada… John Ware

John Ware, born into slavery in South Carolina, was raised in Texas became a skilled cowboy before settling in the Alberta area in Canada.

John Ware – Cowboy and Rancher

John Ware, cowboy, rancher (born 1845 near Georgetown, SC; died 13 September 1905 near Brooks, AB). John Ware was born a slave on a cotton plantation and apparently grew up on a small ranch in northern Texas, although the historical record of his life is far from clear. He gained his freedom at the close of the American Civil War (1865) and drifted west, eventually finding work on a ranch near Fort Worth, Texas.

Ware lived in what we may consider the golden age of the ranching frontier and achieved heroic status for his impressive physical strength, remarkable horsemanship, good nature, and courage. The true story of the man is difficult to discern from the legends built around him. Documentation about his life is rare and most of what is known about him comes from commentaries written by fellow cowboys, but those accounts did not begin to appear until the late 1930s. Ware was predeceased by his wife and died while his children were very young.

In the many stories told about John Ware, his strength and skill with livestock are central features. He was said to have walked over the backs of penned steers without fear and that he could stop a steer head-on and wrestle it to the ground. It was also said that he could break the wildest broncos, trip a horse by hand and hold it on its back to be shod, and easily lift an 18-month-old steer and throw it on his back for branding.

Regardless of the level of hyperbole extant in the stories of John Ware, his status as regional folk hero gives testament to how well-respected he was. The characteristics attributed to him are those shared by the frontier heroes of cowboy subculture. What distinguishes him the most, however, is how successfully he, as a Black man, established himself in the Eurocentric society of 19th-century Canada.

Ware’s freedom came at the same time that ranching spread across the Midwestern United States. He traveled west and honed his skill as a cowboy. An experienced cowhand by the late 1870s, he was employed driving herds of Texas cattle northward along the Western Cattle Trail to the distant ranges in Wyoming and Montana territories. In 1882, he was hired to help bring 3000 head of cattle from the US to Sir Hugh Allan’s North West Cattle Company ranch, commonly known as the Bar U Ranch, in the foothills southwest of Calgary. Ware found that experienced cowboys were much in demand in this northernmost edge of the ranching frontier. He remained in the area and worked for several large cattle companies. In 1884 he started working for the Quorn Ranch on the Sheep River; it had a large herd of cattle but it also raised horses for the English market. Ware was put in charge of the horse herd.

In the spring of 1885, a large round-up was undertaken from Fort Macleod to search the foothills from Calgary to the Montana border. It involved 100 cowboys, 15 chuckwagons, and 500 horses. Ware represented the Quorn Ranch and was described in the Macleod Gazette as “not only one of the best natured and most obliging fellows in the country, but he is one of the shrewdest cowmen, and the man is considered pretty lucky who has him to look after his interest. The horse is not running on the prairie which John cannot ride.”

Before the round-up began, Ware registered his own brand, which was known as the four nines (9999) or walking-stick brand. In 1898 he re-registered it as three nines. He started his own ranch in the foothills in 1890 and in 1892 married Mildred Lewis, who had come to Calgary with her family from Ontario. In the face of increasing settlement in 1900, Ware moved to a new ranch site along the Red Deer River east of Brooks. His home was destroyed by the spring flood of 1902. Ware re-constructed the cabin for his wife and five children (a sixth child had died in infancy) on higher ground overlooking a stream, which is now called Ware Creek.

The family did not occupy the new home for long. In April 1905, Mildred died of pneumonia and typhoid. The following September, Ware was killed when his horse tripped in a badger hole and fell on him. His funeral in Calgary was attended by ranchers from around the region; John Ware was mourned by the ranching community as one of its most respected members.

John Ware was known to his friends and neighbors as “N—er John.” The racism of Ware’s time was enacted with thoughtless disregard for the individual; even though people liked and respected Ware, they referred to him in a way that we today would immediately label as pejorative. N—er is a potent word; it conveys the sense of inferiority and ignorance even as its historical context reveals the tragedies and triumphs of American history.

There are several places in southern Alberta named for John Ware, including Mount Ware, Ware Creek, and John Ware Ridge (formerly N—er John Ridge). Calgary is home to John Ware Junior High and at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, the John Ware Building houses the Four Nines Cafeteria.

John Ware Postage Stamp (Canadian Postage Stamp Catalogue)
(Canadian Postage Stamp Catalogue)

Today’s Sources:

* CBC News Canada                                                                http://www.cbc.ca/news2/interactives/black-history-month/

* The Canadian Encyclopedia                                                        http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/john-ware/

Black History Month In Canada… Willie O’Ree

Willie O’Ree was a pro hockey player and was the first Black man to play in the NHL.

Willie O’Ree – Pro Hockey Player

Willie O’Ree, OC, ONB, hockey player (born 15 October 1935 in Fredericton, NB). On 18 January 1958, O’Ree became the first Black hockey player to play a National Hockey League game when he debuted with the Boston Bruins against the Montreal Canadiens at the Montreal Forum. O’Ree played a total of 45 games in the NHL with the Bruins. Since 1998, he has been the NHL’s Director of Youth Development and ambassador for NHL Diversity, and has led the Hockey is for Everyone program.
Continue reading “Black History Month In Canada… Willie O’Ree”