CBU Celebrates African Heritage Month

 In honour of African Heritage Month, Cape Breton University’s Viola Desmond Chair in Social Justice, Dr. Graham Reynolds, is hosting an educational presentation titled, The Many Faces of Jim Crow: A Documentary History of Racial Discrimination & Segregation in Nova Scotia, on Monday, February 28 from 2-4 p.m. in CE-265. Wanda Robson, Viola Desmond’s sister, will also be on hand for the presentation. The event is free and open to the public.

The presentation examines the practice of racial discrimination in Nova Scotia during the first half of the twentieth century. It includes the story of Canada's civil rights icon Viola Desmond, who in 1946 challenged the practice of racial segregation at the Roseland Theatre in New Glasgow, N.S., together with the recent Free Pardon granted to her by the Nova Scotia Legislature in April of 2010.

“When we think of the injustices associated with the history of racism in North America, we usually think of the United States and the narrative of racism that extends from slavery to the Civil War followed by the creation of Jim Crow laws and ending with the civil rights movement. Many of us are unaware that much of this narrative also applies to Canada’s history,” says Dr. Reynolds.

Dr. Reynolds has an extensive research background in cross-cultural studies, and in developing new approaches to the teaching and learning of Canadian history and social studies – an area that he has identified as a primary focus of the Chair specific to Viola Desmond’s story.

“The presentation and current research explores this aspect of Canada’s history with a focus on Nova Scotia, which had its own brand of Jim Crow that was reinforced by custom rather than by law, as it was in the US,” he says.

On November 10, 2010, 64 years after the event in the Roseland Theatre, CBU officially launched the Viola Desmond Chair in Social Justice and introduced Dr. Graham Reynolds at its first holder.

For more information visit on the Chair and its initiatives visit www.cbu.ca/desmond.