Black History Month
January 31, 2021
What we celebrate today as Black History Month, started in 1926 with the work of Carter Woodson, the son of freed slaves in Virginia.
Woodson’s efforts to have the work and history of those who came before him recognized, resulted in the establishment of Negro History Week.
It wasn’t until the Ontario Black History Society petitioned for its recognition that Toronto celebrated the month of February as Black History Month in 1979. Canada only officially recognized February as Black History Month in December 1995 following a motion introduced by the first Black Canadian woman elected to Parliament, the Honourable Jean Augustine. Maclean’s magazine recognized Jean Augustine as the Lifetime Achievement winner for 2021. You can read the article here.
This last year in particular has been a stark reminder of the enormous work still needed to bring real equality to our nation. The protests ignited by the violent murder of George Floyd under the knee of a white police officer are about more than one heinous act of terror-inducing racism.
As Secretary-Treasurer Tosato wrote in the Summer 2020 issue of Checkout:
“…these protests are the culmination of generations of systemic violence and trauma. Black Lives Matter. It’s that simple. Hate is taught. That hate, unchecked and encouraged, persists and takes hold in the minds of those infected by it. That deep-rooted unfettered hate in the hands of those in power leads to the systems we have now: systems that enables violence, murder, oppression, and all kinds of inequities. And those systems are rigged to maintain and protect those in power. Things must change.” Read the full article here.
There are many ways in which the labour movement is inherently a progressive movement. Working to achieve equity for working people: fair laws, fair wages, and fair opportunities for workers from all backgrounds and across all industries. But it hasn’t always been that way and we have much work to do as a movement to ensure that every Union is a safe space for every worker.
UFCW Locals 175 & 633 is committed to social justice and advancing the equality of all people. Diversity and inclusion is an imperative for our organization. Our Union strives to bargain good collective agreements that uplift and empower workers.
Social justice doesn’t happen out of good intentions. Real social justice takes work. Every day.
Don’t get caught up in the politics of distraction and click-bait media. Do the work.
The more you inform yourself, the more you see that people experience the world in very different ways – and many of those ways are full of oppression, terror, and violence.
How to be a part of the change:
- Call out racism when you witness it.
- Actively promote anti-racist information and resources.
- Use your power as a consumer to support Black-owned businesses.
- Use your power as a voter to elect anti-racist candidates at all levels of government.
- Donate to charities that support social justice and anti-racist initiatives.
- Recognize that you don’t have to be racist to benefit from ongoing education and experience.
- Listen, learn, and do better going forward.
Make sure you check out our Instagram regularly. It’s a public account – you don’t need your own account to view it.
On our Instagram Stories you’ll find posts highlighting the contributions of Black Canadians and those whose legacies have paved the way toward social justice. We’ll also be sharing anti-racist resources, historical information, educational materials, and more.
The Coalition of Black Trade Unionists will host a series of webinars over the next two months to commemorate Black History and the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Visit the CBTU website for more information.
Anti-Black Racism Reading Lists
- Ontario Black History Society
- Black Lives Matter Canada and the Black Lives Matter Global Network
- Coalition of Black Trade Unionists Canada
- Canada’s Colour Coded Income Inequality (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Dec 2019)
- Black Legal Action Centre
- The Sleeping Car Porters in Canada
- A brief history of Black History Month from UFCW Local 401
- Anti-Racism Resource Cards
- CLC statement on racism and police violence
Visit our Instagram account to view our Stories & Highlights for Black History Month.