Welcome to Black History Month. We hope that you are already enjoying some of the many celebrations taking place. If you need information on upcoming events, you will find a listing in Share each week of this month and on our website: sharenews.com.
Black History has been celebrated in Toronto for some 60 years, beginning with the activism of the Canadian Negro Women’s Association in the 1950s. Formal recognition by the City of Toronto came in 1978. Official recognition across Canada followed in 1995.
During February, we celebrate our African history while raising awareness of how our history is woven into the larger human story. We also invite everyone to raise their awareness of the critical participation of Africans in the story of society in general.
But, as others have said, we should celebrate Black history every week. And we agree with those who feel that the contributions of Black people to society should be more widely recognized. The history of African-Canadians should not be relegated to just one month.
We at Share continue to ensure that anyone who wants to know what people in our community are doing to help build this country can do so every week. This newspaper, which has been part of our community for 35 years (this coming April), is a literal record-keeper of our history, especially here in Toronto, while also being a part of that history.
When people outside of our community want to know what is happening in our community they often look to Share because it is a voice for what matters to us. They also know that most of the stories they read in Share do not – and may never – appear anywhere else.
As a document of the achievements and concerns of Black people in this city, Share is a reliable source of information. This is a responsibility we take seriously, because those who write history influence how it is consumed, both now and in the future. A close examination of the mainstream media, for example, will tell how others are documenting our history.
Like many who forge onward to ensure equal rights, opportunity and empowerment for Black people, Share engages in activism with a clear vision for what is right for our community’s prosperity, sometimes against the push back of the status quo, but always with the greater support from the people for whose voices we have created a space. A history of Black advocacy and activism would require no less.
When the Toronto District School Board was considering the establishment of an Africentric Alternative School, for example, Share took a strong position in support while just about every other newspaper – within and outside of our community – were opposed. That is because we understood the needs of our community and the history of this effort. Share has documented over decades many of the arguments in support of academic curricula that would reach Black students at risk of falling through the cracks. And this publication was a persistent advocate for those students and the academic programs Black educators proposed.
And when the school became a reality, Share was there to record it for posterity.
When the City of Toronto wanted to force a name change for the Jamaican Patty, Share brought it to the attention of the public. The response from across the community and the City’s eventual decision to stand down are all recorded in Share.
There are so many other instances like these where Share’s advocacy made a difference.
During this month, as we celebrate the history of Black achievement, Share’s pages will highlight people who have been recognized for their success and their contributions– as we have done just about every week for the past three-and-a-half decades. But, of course, these will only be a small sample of our community’s achievers. We will recall many of those who were first in their field of endeavour and we will also shine the spotlight on our youth who are making our community proud every day. We will share their stories to remind all of us that the reflection we so often see in the mainstream media does not tell our story; and that we are so much more than we may be perceived by others to be.
More importantly, although the stories will be part of our recorded history, they primarily are meant to remind us, and especially our youth, of our potential for greatness.
As we state on our cover every week, we are making our community’s voice heard as we tell our stories from our perspective; as we continue to record our history.