Black History Month is about those who made a difference not purely because of the colour of their skin, but their actions. From Rose Mary Brown to Portia White, they are all a part of history and ultimately our Black Canadian legacy.
Black History Month (BHM) is held every February in Canada. The aims are to:
Heighten the confidence and awareness of Black people in their cultural heritage
Congratulations! You have just been hired by the Toronto Star as a Junior Reporter. Your writing style is very impressive and the newspaper is trusting that you will live up to your superb resume and interview. Your first assignment is to attend a Black History month event anywhere in the GTA. You must attend the event within the month of February and write a 500 word report on the event that you attended. You will explain the particulars of the event and explain to our readers on how the event captured the essence of Black History Month.
The way you write your article is very important. Write in a style and language which is appropriate. Make sure that you keep it interesting; your article should be written in an immediate and vivid style with the detail of an eyewitness report. Try and interview at least one person, and quote what they say in the story. Use lots of description to tell your story.
Your deadline for publishing your report is March 1st.
Read “Why a Black History Month?” by Rosemary Sadlier.
Think about the purpose of your story: in a news story it will most likely be to inform the audience.
Do some research and conduct interviews, remembering to take notes and write down useful quotes.
As you write:
Use active verbs to show what's really happening
Tell the really interesting information first
Follow this outline:
Try to hook the reader by beginning with a funny, clever, or surprising statement. Go for variety - try to begin your article with a question or a provocative statement. In your first one or two sentences, address the issues of who, what, when, where, and why.
Give the reader the details by expanding on the five Ws. Include one or two quotes from people you interviewed. Write in the third person (he, she, it or they). Remember to stay objective, and never openly state your own opinion. Use quotes to express others' opinions.
Wrap it up, and don't leave the reader hanging. Try ending with a quote, or a catchy phrase, or a neat summing-up.
By Rosemary Sadlier, President of the Ontario Black History Society
Black History Month evolved from the work of Carter G. Woodson, an African American, in the 1920s. He established Black History Week as a week of celebration to follow the year’s study of Black history. The week he chose contained the birthdates of two people significant to the ability of people of African descent to be free to obtain an education. The week includes February 12 for President Lincoln, who brought emancipation into the law in the United States, and February 14 for Frederick Douglas, who advocated for Blacks to do what they could within their own country to lead to a better life for all Black people.
In the 1950s, the Canadian Negro Women’s Association brought the celebration to Toronto, Ontario. By 1978, the Ontario Black History Society, whose mandate includes the promotion of Black history education, successfully petitioned the City of Toronto to have the now monthly celebration formally recognized. Toronto, many other cities, and the province of Ontario currently proclaim Black History Month.
But why have a Black History Month? African-Canadian students need to feel affirmed, to be aware of the contributions made by other Blacks in Canada, to have role models, and to understand the social forces which have shaped and influenced their community and their identities so that they can feel connected to the educational experience and their life experience in the various regions of Canada. They need to feel empowered. Non-African Canadians need to have a balanced sense of the historical contributions of Blacks in this country and need to know a history of Canada that includes all of the founding/pioneer experiences in order to work from an actual reality, rather than a virtual reality. Both groups benefit by including Black history.
As a group, which has roots dating back to 1603, and which has helped to defend, clear, build, and farm this country, the presence of Blacks is well-established, but not well-known. It is not well-known because history has tended to record the acts of rich and powerful men to the exclusion of any other group. The celebration of Black History is an attempt to have the achievements of Black people in Canada included.
We need a Black History Month in order to help us to arrive at an understanding of ourselves as Canadians in the most accurate and complete socio-historical context that we can produce. All histories need to be known and all voices need to be expressed in a nation like ours with such diversity. Black history takes on perhaps a greater importance because as the group which is the most distinct from others, Black history provides the binary opposite to all traditional histories. One needs traditional history to engender a common culture; one needs Black history to engender a clearer and more complete culture.
When the contributions of people of African descent are acknowledged, when the achievements of Black people are known, when Black people are routinely included or affirmed through our curriculum, our books and the media, and treated with equality, then the need for a Black History Month will no longer exist.