February is Black History Month

The month kicked off last Thursday with a flag raising ceremony at the Civic Centre in Downtown Chatham. The month is a time to honor and celebrate the accomplishment of Canadians of African descent. It was attended by  representatives from the Buxton National Historic Site & Museum, the Chatham-Kent Black Historical Society & Black Mecca Museum, and the Josiah Henson Museum of African-Canadian History. There are many events taking place at these sites as well as some others in Chatham-Kent.  Check CK events 
If you or your family have never attended any of the Chatham-Kent Events or Site Tours that take place each year in February to celebrate Black History Month you have missed out. Ontario first proclaimed February as Black History Month in 1993 to mark the 200th anniversary of a law banning the importation of slaves into Upper Canada. Since that time, although it did not have official status, people across the province have continued to celebrate the uniqueness, and continuing contributions given by the Black Community. In 2016, the Government officially made a proclamation to recognize February as Black History Month and subsequently introduced legislation to make it an annual event.
Last year marked the 200th Anniversary of the birth of Mary Ann Shadd who had strong ties to Chatham. Her legacy was highlighted at the many events in February 2023. She was Canada’s first black female newspaper publisher and the founder of the Provincial Freedom. She founded the paper in Windsor in 1853 and moved it to Chatham 2 years later. It became a beacon to carry the message of anti-slavery and was renowned across North America. Shadd, in addition to her publishing career was a well- known anti-slavery activist, teacher and lawyer. She was born free in Delaware and worked tirelessly against slavery. She returned to the United Stated after the American Civil War to work for racial equality.
There are many events taking place this month to honor Black History Month. Chatham-Kent has so much Black History with its ties to the Underground Railway and the many pioneers of the Anti-Slavery era who settled in Kent County and made such a difference in our history. Unfortunately, many resident have never visited some of the well -known sites and museums. Make an effort to learn about our connections to that time. Go to the Museum sites, check social media and make it a family event. You children will thank you.