Each year in February, the City of Toronto is proud to support events and exhibits scheduled for Black History Month, inviting members of the public to explore and celebrate the heritage, traditions and culture of African-Canadians.
Black History Month began in the United States as “Negro History Week” in February 1926, through the work of African American scholar Dr. Carter G. Woodson. His aim was to raise awareness and understanding in the school curriculum of the African experience around the world. The United States began to formally celebrate Black History Month in the 1960s. Through community activities, organizers sought to present a more balanced and accurate picture of Black history.
In the 1950s, community organizations such as the Canadian Negro Women’s Association began to celebrate the importance of the history of the black community in Toronto. In 1979, Toronto became the first municipality in Canada to proclaim Black History Month through the efforts of many individuals and organizations such as the Ontario Black History Society. In 1995, Toronto Area MP Jean Augustine introduced a motion that was passed unanimously by the House of Commons to recognize Black History Month across Canada.
Black History Month is an opportunity for the City of Toronto to recognize the past and present contributions that African Canadians make to the life of Toronto in such areas as education, medicine, art, culture, public service, economic development, politics and human rights.
A schedule of events is listed below.
Black History Month
WHEREAS Toronto became the first municipality in Canada to proclaim Black History Month in 1979 to honour the legacy of Black Canadians.
The month provides an opportunity to celebrate and commemorate the legacy, history and achievements that Canadians of African descent have made and continue to make, and to recognize our commitment to equal rights, opportunity and freedom from discrimination in Toronto and across Canada.
Black History Month is our opportunity to learn about the history of Black Canadians, the role they have played in building our city and to recognize the vital need to combat racism, discrimination and inequity in our communities, partially through gaining a greater understanding of the discrimination and marginalization often faced by Black Canadians.
The City of Toronto’s Confronting Anti-Black Racism unit (CABR) has developed the Toronto Action Plan to eliminate barriers and to ensure systemic changes are made to eradicate anti-Black racism and help create a culture that values inclusion, opposes racism and discrimination of all kinds and prioritizes the well-being and advancement of Black Torontonians.
This effort coincides with United Nations’ declaration of the International Decade for People of African Descent from 2015 – 2024. This International Decade encourages Canada and other countries to take action to protect and promote the human rights of people of African descent, and to recognize the invaluable contributions that people of African descent or origin have made.
Black History is our history and this month gives us an opportunity to learn about accomplishments and traumas, both of which are important for all of us to understand and that understanding will make us stronger and better as a city.
NOW THEREFORE, I, Mayor John Tory, on behalf of Toronto City Council, do hereby proclaim February 2022 as “Black History Month” in the City of Toronto.
Educators from the Toronto History Museums will be guest-speaking at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)’s Virtual School Programs, a series of live 30-minute virtual field trips, free of charge on February 3, 17 and 24.
Select sessions will explore moments in history inspired by Black Torontonians, including Joshua Glover and Mary Ann Shadd, and feature a discussion of an artwork from the AGO Collection and a mini-art making activity.
Co-led by educators from three of the Toronto History Museums (Montgomery’s Inn, Fort York and Mackenzie House) and AGO Art Educators, sessions are available on each of those days for students in school or at home in JK to Grade 3, Grade 4 to 8 and Grade 9 to 12. Registration is required: https://ago.ca/visit/group-visits/virtual-school-programs.
Awaken a new perspective by exploring Toronto History Museum’s Black History Month YouTube Playlist. The Awakenings short films and conversations featured are from Black, Indigenous and artists of colour, operating under the principles of anti-oppression, anti-colonialism, and anti-racism. Toronto History Museum’s also pays tribute to some of the women who have made or are continuing to make important contributions to Toronto’s history and story, be inspired by the lives of exceptional women highlighted in HerStory. Learn more about these and other projects that can be experienced safely at home at toronto.ca/museums.
The Toronto Archives’ Black History in Toronto webpage highlights the history of Black communities, activists and leaders, service organizations and much more. Social media users can follow the Toronto Archives’ Twitter account and Instagram account, for images and stories of significant Black figures, such as William Peyton Hubbard, Dr. Alvin Curling and Donald Moore to celebrate #BlackHistoryMonth. These images will help followers discover more about the records and resources available at the Archives and beyond.
Starting February 1, the “Did you know?” poster series will be rolled out at all outdoor ice rinks, Centennial Park Ski and Snowboard Centre, Earl Bales Park Ski and Snowboard Centre, and the four open golf courses. The posters, painted by local youth artists, feature captivating illustrations of notable Black figures and their contributions.
As well, the City’s Community Centres with viewing screens will play presentations highlighting Black Canadians who have made significant contributions across various sectors, including sports, entertainment and politics.
Toronto Public Library celebrates Black History with year-round events and programs that honour Black heritage and consider the historical significance and contemporary contributions of Black activists and artists from around the world. Discover upcoming events, reading lists, videos, podcast episodes and more at tpl.ca/blackhistory.