Today we honour our provincial hero and human rights activist Viola Desmond (July 6, 1914 – February 7, 1965), who challenged racial segregation at a film theater in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia in 1946.
Her actions influenced other human rights activists to end segregation in the province and in Canada.
In celebration of the Nova Scotia Heritage Day we compiled this list of powerful reads:
Sister to courage: stories from the world of Viola Desmond, Canada’s Rosa Parks by Wanda Robson with Ronald Caplan.
“In Sister to Courage, Wanda takes us inside the world she shared with Viola and ten other brothers and sisters. Through touching and often hilarious stories, she traces the roots of courage and ambition, fun and dignity of the household that produced Viola Desmond. Tough and compassionate, Viola shines through beyond the moment she was carried out of Roseland movie theatre for refusing to sit in the blacks-only section. Viola emerges as a defender of family and a successful entrepreneur whose momentum was blocked by racism.”
The journey continues: an Atlantic Canadian Black experience by Craig Marshall Smith.
“The book begins with Mathieu Da Costa in Port Royal in 1605. He was the first known nameable person of Africa descent to come to Canada. Through its pages the book will acknowledge the accomplishments of more than 150 individuals. It will conclude with the signing of the free pardon that was issued by the province to the late Viola Desmond on April 15, 2011. In 1946 Desmond, of Halifax, was jailed and fined for sitting in the whites-only section of a New Glasgow movie theatre.”
The Nova Scotia nine: remarkable women, then and now. portraits by Jo Napier; stories by Joanne Wise.
“Halifax painter Jo Napier created the Nova Scotia Nine portrait series that inspired this book. The Nova Scotia Nine is a collection of large-scale, contemporary paintings of women who lived extraordinary lives and made a difference here in Nova Scotia. The nine women featured in this collection have passed into history, but their legacies continue. In the stories gathered here, you will meet a current generation of women who are, in various ways, following in the footsteps of the Nova Scotia Nine and blazing their own remarkable trails.”
Viola Desmond won’t be budged by Jody Nyasha Warner; pictures by Richard Rudnicki.
“ Jody Nyasha Warner uses a warm oral storytelling voice that invites the reader to “come on here, listen in close” to the tale of a woman who “sat down for her rights.” Rudnicki’s bright illustrations capture the changing emotions on Viola’s face while supplying details of architecture and fashion that bring the period vividly to life.”
The African Canadian legal odyssey: historical essays edited by Barrington Walker.
“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.”