TRURO – Embracing the concept of African Heritage Month is a positive way to form a lasting bond between blacks and non-blacks in the wider community, Truro resident Marie (Jones) Francis believes.
“It’s like glue that glues us together as a people,” Francis said on Monday, during a Monday ceremony in which February was designated African Heritage Month in the Hubtown.
“Black people yes,” she continued, “but also as black and white together. Like that old spiritual (song): ‘We shall overcome, we shall overcome, deep in our hearts, I do believe that we shall overcome one day.’”
Approximately 35 people attended the ceremony in Truro council chambers, including Crystal States of the African Nova Scotia Central Network and Tracey Thomas of African Nova Scotian Affairs.
“It is important because it’s historical for Truro,” said Francis, whose mother Willena Jones was the first black teacher in Truro.
“It’s very important that we come together united as a community, setting aside our differences and looking for the good of the whole, the whole community.”
For Francis, the designation offers a chance to “overcome” the past differences and to learn to move beyond.
“Overcome the hurts of the past, overcome the exclusion that had happened in the past and recognize Africa as a place where good things come out of,” she said.
Tina Jourdin, meanwhile, viewed the ceremony’s meaning as a chance to break free from the past.
“This shows us that, it gives our children the opportunity to see what really is great,” the Truro resident said. “Like, they’re acknowledging us at the town council, they’re saying sorry for their wrongs to us, which means a lot to us. It’s a start in the right direction on a positive level for the children, the adults now in the Town of Truro.”
Having the month designated to his race was especially poignant for Henry Glover, who raised during the early part of his life by his great grandmother in the southern United States.
“My great grandmother was a former slave,” who had served as cook for a white sharecropper, said Glover, a Truro resident of about two years. “And I remember the relationship being African American living in a southern part of the United States … My identity always went with me wherever I went. I couldn’t hide from it.
“I’ve seen it from both perspectives and I’m proud of who I am.”
For Truro councilor Raymond Tynes, the day’s events offered a chance to reflect and grow.
“So let us, as we move forward to celebrate African Heritage month, Black History Month, whatever we want to call it, let us look back to see how we got to where we are today with a view of moving forward,” he said.
* African Heritage Month (also known as Black History Month) is an annual observance in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom for remembrance of important people and events in the history of the African diaspora, which refers to the communities throughout the world that are descended from the historic movement of peoples from Africa to various parts of the globe.
* Had its beginnings in the United States in 1926.
* First recognized in Canada in 1995.