Black History Month – A Time of Celebration Not Ritual

In April 2021, I spoke with Sharon Lindsay and Sabrina Hinds from Kingsview FMC about Black History Month ( I also spoke with David Wright about how  Bramalea Free Methodist Church celebrates Black History Month. 

When David and his wife joined Bramalea FMC in 2008, the church recognized Black History Month, but David wanted it to become a celebration. “When I thought about looking into Black History Month ideas, I knew I wanted it to be a time of celebration, and not just a ritual. I wanted to provide a historical overview of the various roles and significance of Black Canadians in the development of Canada.” 

David began his research by looking into the historical roles and contributions of Black Canadians starting with the involvement of Black Canadians in the War of 1812. His research included Black Canadians who contributed to Canada in significant ways including inventors, politicians, athletes, scientists, educators, musicians, and more. David created presentations from his research which were presented during Black History Month by a member of the congregation. “We included a time of questions and discussion after each presentation to ensure everyone was involved.” 

In later years, Bramalea FMC hosted guest speakers during Black History Month. ” We invited the Krio Diaspora United of South Ontario (KDUSO) for two consecutive years to lead the service here.The music with the African beat, their speakers, and the whole atmosphere was really wonderful. We also had Bernice Carnegie, a speaker and storyteller who shares her unique perspective of being born Black in Canada. We have had a diversity of programs to celebrate Black History Month and it has been very enriching.” 

David also believes it is important to not only look at the accomplishments of Black Canadians during Black History Month, but also the obstacles and challenges they face. “We have problems of racial discrimination and inequalities and systemic racism. We have looked at the statistics for young black men, and the ways in which they are disadvantaged. It is important to give a balanced picture so that people understand what is going on and how people of the church can be involved in bridging the gap or helping to improve situations wherever we can. I believe that more awareness is needed and the church has a role to play in that.”

Black History Month celebrates the achievements and contributions of Black Canadians and their communities who have done so much to make Canada the culturally diverse, compassionate, and prosperous nation it is today. If you are thinking about celebrating Black History Month in 2022, provides a good starting point.