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Celebrating Black History Month with Ebooks

Since you may not be in Kingston right now, for 2021's Black History Month, we are highlighting ebooks. This way, no matter where you are, you can access them. If you have other suggestions for ebooks to highlight in this guide, please feel free to email us at weblaw@queensu.ca. Some books are just not available to libraries as ebooks, but we can still use your suggestions to help build a larger guide that encompasses both print and ebooks.

Black Canadians: History, Experiences, Social Conditions

The ongoing struggle against racism and discrimination for Black Canadians is explored in this authoritative reference for those seeking to learn more about the black diaspora in North America. This work examines more than 300 years of Black Canadian history, from the first migration of slaves, Black loyalists, and Civil War refugees to the expansive movement brought about by the establishment of the point system in 1967. Venturing beyond established orthodoxies and simplistic solutions to discuss the contentious ethno-racial problems in Canada, this pointed critique addresses the geography of the settlements and the labor market, sports management, race and ethnic relations, and employment equity vis-a-vis the Black experience.

The African Canadian Legal Odyssey: Historical Essays

The African Canadian Legal Odyssey explores the history of African Canadians and the law from the era of slavery until the early twenty-first century. This collection demonstrates that the social history of Blacks in Canada has always been inextricably bound to questions of law, and that the role of the law in shaping Black life was often ambiguous and shifted over time. Comprised of eleven engaging chapters, organized both thematically and chronologically, it includes a substantive introduction that provides a synthesis and overview of this complex history. This outstanding collection will appeal to both advanced specialists and undergraduate students and makes an important contribution to an emerging field of scholarly inquiry.

Black Writers Matter

An anthology of African-Canadian writing, Black Writers Matter offers a cross-section of established writers and newcomers to the literary world who tackle contemporary and pressing issues with beautiful, sometimes raw, prose. As editor Whitney French says in her introduction, Black Writers Matter “injects new meaning into the word diversity [and] harbours a sacredness and an everydayness that offers Black people dignity. ” An “invitation to read, share, and tell stories of Black narratives that are close to the bone,” this collection feels particular to the Black Canadian experience.

Until we are free : reflections on Black Lives Matter in Canada

The killing of Trayvon Martin in 2012 by a white assailant inspired the Black Lives Matter movement, which quickly spread outside the borders of the United States. The movement’s message found fertile ground in Canada, where Black activists speak of generations of injustice and continue the work of the Black liberators who have come before them. Until We Are Free contains some of the very best writing on the hottest issues facing the Black community in Canada. It describes the latest developments in Canadian Black activism, organizing efforts through the use of social media, Black-Indigenous alliances, and more.

Go to School, You're a Little Black Boy

Among the important stories that need to be told about noteworthy Canadians, Lincoln Alexander's sits at the top of the list. Born in Toronto in 1922, the son of a maid and a railway porter, Alexander embarked on an exemplary life path that has involved military service for his country, a successful political career, a thriving law career, and vocal advocacy on subjects ranging from antiracism to the importance of education. This biography traces a remarkable series of events from Alexander's early life to the present that helped shape the charismatic and influential leader whose impact continues to be felt today. From facing down racism to challenging the postwar Ontario establishment, becoming Canada's first Black member of Parliament, entertaining royalty as Ontario's lieutenant-governor, and serving as chancellor of one of Canada's leading universities, Alexander's is the ultimate, uplifting Canadian success story, the embodiment of what defines Canada.

African Canadian Leadership: Continuity, Transition, and Transformation

Challenging the myth of African Canadian leadership "in crisis," this book opens a broad vista of inquiry into the many and dynamic ways leadership practices occur in Black Canadian communities. Exploring topics including Black women’s contributions to African Canadian communities, the Black Lives Matter movement, Black LGBTQ, HIV/AIDS advocacy, motherhood and grieving, mentoring, and anti-racism, contributors appraise the complex history and contemporary reality of blackness and leadership in Canada.

With Canada as a complex site of Black diasporas, contributors offer an account of multiple forms of leadership and suggest that through surveillance and disruption, practices of self-determined Black leadership are incompatible with, and threatening to, White "structures" of power in Canada. As a whole, African Canadian Leadership offers perspectives that are complex, non-aligned, and in critical conversation about class, gender, sexuality, and the politics of African Canadian communities.

Dear Current Occupant: a Memoir

Winner of the 2018 City of Vancouver Book Award From Vancouver-based writer Chelene Knight, Dear Current Occupant is a creative non-fiction memoir about home and belonging set in the 80s and 90s of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Using a variety of forms, Knight reflects on her childhood through a series of letters addressed to all of the current occupants now living in the twenty different houses she moved in and out of with her mother and brother. From blurry non-chronological memories of trying to fit in with her own family as the only mixed East Indian/Black child, to crystal clear recollections of parental drug use, Knight draws a vivid portrait of memory that still longs for a place and a home. Peering through windows and doors into intimate, remembered spaces now occupied by strangers, Knight writes to them in order to deconstruct her own past. From the rubble of memory she then builds a real place in order to bring herself back home.

We're Rooted Here and They Can't Pull Us Up

The six essays collected here explore three hundred years of Black women in Canada, from the seventeenth century to the immediate post-Second World War period. Sylvia Hamilton documents the experiences of Black women in Nova Scotia, from early slaves and Loyalists to modern immigrants. Adrienne Shadd looks at the gripping realities of the Underground Railroad, focusing on activities on this side of the border. Peggy Bristow examines the lives of Black women in Buxton and Chatham, Ontario, between 1850 and 1865. Afua Cooper describes the career of Mary Bibb, a nineteenth-century Black teacher in Ontario. Dionne Brand, through oral accounts, examines labourers between the wars and their recruitment as factory workers during the Second World War. And, finally, Linda Carty explores relations between Black women and the Canadian state. This long overdue history will prove welcome reading for anyone interested in Black history and race relations.

In the Black: My Life

In the Black traces B. Denham Jolly’s personal and professional struggle for a place in a country where Black Canadians have faced systematic discrimination. He arrived from Jamaica to attend university in the mid-1950s and worked as a high school teacher before going into the nursing and retirement-home business. Though he was ultimately successful in his business ventures, Jolly faced both overt and covert discrimination, which led him into social activism. The need for a stronger voice for the Black community fuelled Jolly’s 12-year battle to get a licence for a Black-owned radio station in Toronto. At its launch in 2001, Flow 93.5 became the model for urban music stations across the country, helping to launch the careers of artists like Drake. Jolly chronicles not only his own journey; he tells the story of a generation of activists who worked to reshape the country into a more open and just society. While celebrating these successes, In the Black also measures the distance Canada still has to travel before we reach our stated ideals of equality.

The Promised Land: History and Historiography of the Black Experience in Chatham-Kent's Settlements and Beyond

Eschewing the often romanticized Underground Railroad narrative that portrays southern Ontario as the welcoming destination of Blacks fleeing from slavery, The Promised Land reveals the Chatham-Kent area as a crucial settlement site for an early Black presence in Canada.

From My Mother's Back: a Journey from Kenya to Canada

In this warm and honest memoir, celebrated academic Njoki Wane shares her journey from her parents' small coffee farm in Kenya, where she helped her mother in the fields as a child, to her current work as a professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. Moving smoothly between time and place, Wane uses her past to illuminate her present. The childhood confusion caused by nuns at her boarding school dismissing her proper name and demanding she give them a Christian first name she did not possess, which resulted in many unexpected consequences, leads deftly to her requirement as a professor that her students, and all her colleagues, learn to use and correctly pronounce her first name of Njoki. In similar ways, Wane uses other memories, painful and tender, to show how her early lessons and the support given by her family allowed her to succeed as a woman of colour in the academy and to later lift up her students facing their own difficult journeys. Yet Wane does not gloss over her own growing pains as a young woman, and as an established professor she still questions whether or not her attachment to Western conveniences is wise. For, in the end, Wane never forgets that her story started with the feeling of safety and the clear field of view she received as a child carried on her mother's back.

They Call Me George: The Untold Story of the Black Train Porters

Smartly dressed and smiling, Canada's black train porters were a familiar sight to the average passenger--yet their minority status rendered them politically invisible, second-class in the social imagination that determined who was and who was not considered Canadian. Subjected to grueling shifts and unreasonable standards--a passenger missing his stop was a dismissible offense--the so-called Pullmen of the country's rail lines were denied secure positions and prohibited from bringing their families to Canada, and it was their struggle against the racist Dominion that laid the groundwork for the multicultural nation we know today. Drawing on the experiences of these influential black Canadians, Cecil Foster's They Call Me George demonstrates the power of individuals and minority groups in the fight for social justice and shows how a country can change for the better.

Images of Our Past: Historic Black Nova Scotia

The history of Nova Scotia's black communities is a complex story of triumph and struggle, intertwined with the many stories of ancestors, destinies, and challenges. The knowledge and insight of veteran authors Bridglal Pachai and Henry Bishop provide welcome guidance to the mosaic of Nova Scotian black history in Historic Black Communities. Presented in the engaging format of an Images of Our Past book, this readable history book is interspersed with ample black and white photos, providing a visual link to the stories of the past. Eleven chapters explore the African presence in Nova Scotia, and range from topics such as the influence of the church and the African United Baptist Association (AUBA); pioneers in publishing, law, politics and business; the legacy of Africville; heroes of sports, military, arts, and volunteer activism; Historic Black Communities provides a comprehensive, but always accessible entry into the many realms of black influence. Above all, the many photos and stories of this historic tribute salute the dignity and achievements of the resilient black community in Nova Scotia, and provide an unshakeable optimism for its promising future.

Bla_k: Essays and Interviews

Blank is a collection of previously out-of-print essays and new works by one of Canada's most important writers and thinkers. Through an engagement with her earlier work, M. NourbeSe Philip comes to realize the existence of a repetition in the world: the return of something that, while still present, has become unembedded from the world, disappeared. Her imperative becomes to make us see what has gone unseen by writing memory upon the margin of history, in the shadow of empire and at the frontier of silence. In heretical writings that work to make the disappeared perceptible, Blank explores questions of timeliness, recurrence, ongoingness, art, race, the body politic, and the so-called multicultural nation. Through these considerations, Philip creates a linguistic form that registers the presence of what has seemingly dissolved, a form that also imprints the loss and the silence surrounding those disappearances in its very presence.

Race on Trial: Black Defendants in Ontario's Criminal Courts, 1858-1958

While slavery in Canada was abolished in 1834, discrimination remained. Race on Trial contrasts formal legal equality with pervasive patterns of social, legal, and attitudinal inequality in Ontario by documenting the history of Black Ontarians who appeared before the criminal courts from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. Using capital case files and the assize records for Kent and Essex counties, areas that had significant Black populations because they were termini for the Underground Railroad, Barrington Walker investigates the limits of freedom for Ontario's African Canadians. Through court transcripts, depositions, jail records, Judge's Bench Books, newspapers, and government correspondence, Walker identifies trends in charges and convictions in the Black population. This exploration of the complex and often contradictory web of racial attitudes and the values of white legal elites not only exposes how Blackness was articulated in Canadian law but also offers a rare glimpse of Black life as experienced in Canada's past.

James Robinson Johnston: the Life, Death, and Legacy of Nova Scotia's First Black Lawyer

James Robinson Johnston, known as "Lawyer Johnston" to many, is an important figure in Nova Scotian history: not only was he the first Black graduate of Dalhousie University, he was the first Black graduate of Dalhousie Law School as well. This biography deals with Johnston's personal and professional life, his role as a brilliant lawyer, community man and husband. It also deals with the sensitive issue of his death at the hands of his brother-in-law, Harry Allen, which caused a scandal when it occurred in March 1915. Author and descendant Justin Johnston looks at the associated impact the death and the killer's trial had on Nova Scotia's Black community, both past and present. At the pinnacle of his career, Johnston was one of the best lawyers the province had ever seen. Unfortunately the circumstances of Johnston's death have overshadowed the significance of his life, causing this great man to be largely forgotten. This story reclaims Johnston, while examining the historical factors and racial climates that influenced this extraordinary man's life. Justin Johnston weaves family lore with history, and includes rare photographs of "the lawyer," his family and friends, as well as personal correspondence and private papers from the family vaults.

'Membering

Austin Clarke is a distinguished and celebrated novelist and short-story writer. His works often centre around the immigrant experience, of which he writes with humour and compassion, happiness and sorrow. In 'Membering, Clarke shares his own experiences growing up in Barbados and moving to Toronto to attend university in 1955 before becoming a journalist. With vivid realism he describes Harlem of the '60s, meeting and interviewing Malcolm X and writers Chinua Achebe and LeRoi Jones. Clarke went on to become a pioneering instructor of Afro-American Literature at Yale University and inspired a new generation of Afro-American writers. Clarke has been called Canada's first multicultural writer. Here he eschews a traditional chronological order of events and takes the reader on a lyrical tour of his extraordinary life, interspersed with thought-provoking meditations on politics and race. Telling things as he 'members them.

Angry Queer Somali Boy: a Complicated Memoir

Kidnapped by his father on the eve of Somalia’s societal implosion, Mohamed Ali was taken first to the Netherlands by his stepmother, and then later on to Canada. Unmoored from his birth family and caught between twin alienating forces of Somali tradition and Western culture, Mohamed must forge his own queer coming of age. What follows in this fierce and unrelenting account is a story of one young man’s nascent sexuality fused with the violence wrought by displacement.

Blackness and Modernity: the Colour of Humanity and the Quest for Freedom

In Blackness and Modernity Foster traces the main philosophical, anthropological, sociological, and mythological arguments that support views of modernity as a failed quest for whiteness. He outlines how these views were implemented as part of a "world history" and shows how Canada became the first country to officially reject this approach by adopting multiculturalism.

Daddy Hall: A Biography in 80 Linocuts

Born of a Mohawk father and an escaped-slave mother, John 'Daddy' Hall was a product of not one but two oppressed peoples. His gripping story is the stuff of legends—of the War of 1812, of the harsh realities slavery and of triumph in the face of adversity. Over the course of his 117-year life, Hall identified as a freeman, a scout for the British under Chief Tecumseh, a captured slave, an escapee on the Underground Railroad, a town crier in Owen Sound, Ontario, a husband and, as his nickname aptly suggests, father to an impressive number of children.Owen Sound-based artist Tony Miller's 80 stark and arresting black-and-white linocuts present an unflinching portrait of a remarkable African-Canadian whose story of resilience and reinvention offers a fascinating glimpse into the history of Southwestern Ontario.