While Nova Scotians have known the story of Viola Desmond and her brave stand for social justice for some time now, the story recently gained national attention when it was announced that the African Nova Scotian woman will be the first woman, besides the Queen, to appear on a Canadian banknote. Now, the story gains international attention with an upcoming feature by CBS, an American broadcast company.
“The story and legacy of Viola Desmond are significant on a global scale,” says Graham Reynolds, Professor Emeritus and the Viola Desmond Chair of Social Justice. “We’re thrilled to be working with CBS to get this story to an even wider audience. This type of attention even further validates Viola’s place in our nation’s history both as a civil rights icon and as a pioneer African Canadian businesswoman.”
Michelle Miller, CBS news correspondent, first heard the story when Warren Serink Canadian ex-pat and CBS producer brought it to her attention. Often someone who tells the story of the underdog, Michelle says, “So many incredible inspirations are lost to history, yet this woman was strong, self-educated, entrepreneurial and she knew that she had a place in this society. We are paying homage to someone who brought attention to inequality, unfairness and injustice, but also brought hope to generations of people who otherwise may not have seen their dignity. All because people matter.”
As part of CBS’s broadcast the visiting crew spent time with Viola’s sister, Wanda Robson, learning first-hand about what the experience was like for her, as well as with Reynolds, learning more about the Viola Desmond Chair in Social Justice and the importance of its role at CBU.
The crew also toured the Beaton Institute, where the Wanda and Joe Robson Collection now resides. On June 9 2016, to coincide with International Archives Day, the Beaton Institute accepted into its holdings the Wanda and Joe Robson Collection. The donation consists of photographs, newspaper clippings, certificates,and published materials related to the lives of the Davis family, Viola Desmond and Wanda Robson.
The CBS feature will air on Tuesday, February 28, between 8:00 – 9:00 a.m. on CBS This Morning.