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Celebrating Black History Month at UNB

Author: UNB Newsroom

Posted on Jan 30, 2020

Category: UNB Saint John , UNB Fredericton


Feb. 1 will mark the beginning of a monthlong celebration of Black Canadians past and present. During this time, our community reflects upon the stories, contributions and influence that Black Canadians have made on our history, culture and academic institutions. Throughout the year, we stand beside Black New Brunswickers and Black students at UNB who continue to fight for equality and inclusion every day. Together, we work towards building a university environment based on these shared values.

Throughout the month and beyond, a number of informative talks and engaging events for students, faculty, staff and the wider community will be taking place. A full list of events is listed below and each Monday, a roundup of these events will be posted in myUNB News.

All students, faculty and staff are welcome to attend these events in honour of Black History Month, and in celebration of Black New Brunswickers and Canadians who helped shape our university, the province and Canada.

Saturday, Feb. 1 to Saturday, Feb. 29

Rediscovering the Roots of Black New Brunswickers

  • UNB Fredericton Campus: Student Union Building Level 1 Lobby and West Hallway
  • UNB Saint John Campus: Second Floor, Hans W. Klohn Commons

The UNB Art Centre, in collaboration with the bi-campus standing committee on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Human Rights and the Black History Month Organizing Committee, are kicking off Black History Month with Rediscovering the Roots of Black New Brunswickers, a poster campaign featuring the stories of 25 Black New Brunswickers who made meaningful contributions to the province.

Friday, Feb. 7

Black History Month movie screening of Hidden Figures hosted by the Black Student Law Society

  • Time: 7 p.m.
  • Location: Room 26, Faculty of Law, 41 Dineen Dr., UNB, Fredericton

Three brilliant African-American women at NASA - Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) -- serve as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn (Glen Powell) into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation's confidence, turned around the Space Race and galvanized the world.

Sunday, Feb. 9

Black History Month film series: Us

  • Time: 2 p.m.
  • Location: The Saint John Free Public Library, 1 Market Square, Saint John

Accompanied by her husband, son and daughter, Adelaide Wilson returns to the beachfront home where she grew up as a child. Haunted by a traumatic experience from the past, Adelaide grows increasingly concerned that something bad is going to happen. Her worst fears soon become a reality when four masked strangers descend upon the house, forcing the Wilsons into a fight for survival. When the masks come off, the family is horrified to learn that each attacker takes the appearance of one of them. Directed by Jordan Peele.

Saturday, Feb. 15

The Lorenzo Reading Series with Douglas Gary Freeman

  • Time: 2 p.m.
  • Location: The Saint John Free Public Library, Market Square, Saint John

The Lorenzo Reading Series will present author Douglas Gary Freeman as he reads from his books Exile Blues as part of Black History Month.

Douglas Gary Joseph Freeman is an African American now living in Canada. He grew up in Washington, D.C., a segregated city known for police brutality. As a high school student and then at Howard University, he became involved in the Civil Rights movement and then turned to Revolutionary Black Nationalism. Inspired by Frederick Douglass, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, he went to Chicago where he worked with a local South Side African American organization. Targeted by Chicago’s Red Squad for elimination, he had to fight for his life on a South Side street. The gun-battle that ensued left an officer wounded and the author wounded and in prison.

The author began a long quest for justice weathering repeated and renewed threats to his life. He fled to Canada “illegally” and became Douglas Gary Joseph Freeman. Married with four children, he worked chiefly as a library professional in Toronto. Arrested on July 27, 2004 on an extradition warrant, after an 11-year successful struggle for justice, he was returned home to Canada in January 2015.

Sunday, Feb. 16

Black History Month film series: Beloved

  • Time: 1:45 p.m.
  • Location: The Saint John Free Public Library, 1 Market Square, Saint John

In 1873 Ohio, Sethe (Oprah Winfrey) is a mother of three haunted by her horrific slavery past and her desperate actions for freedom. As a result, Sethe's home is haunted by a furious poltergeist, which drives away her two sons. Sethe and her daughter (Kimberly Elise) endure living with the spirit for 10 more years, until an old friend, Paul D. Garner (Danny Glover), arrives to run it out. After Garner moves in, a strange woman named Beloved (Thandie Newton) enters their lives, causing turmoil.

Wednesday, Feb. 19

Couch, Coffee & Convos: Black Women Taking Up Space, hosted by the UNB Women’s Centre

  • Time: Reception at 5 p.m., discussion from 6 - 8 p.m.
  • Location: Alumni Memorial Lounge, Alumni Memorial Building, 13 Bailey Dr., UNB, Fredericton

This event will take place in the form of a panel discussion consisting of an all-Black female panel. The event is focused on acknowledging and shedding light on the unique experiences that Black women encounter and face in today’s society, as a result of the intersectional nature of their identities.

The discussion will be on the topic Black Women in Seats of Power, Mentoring the Future Generation. It will primarily focus on the 'spaces' or 'positions' that various Black women have within the community (both on and off-campus) and the extent to which these positions of power or even prestige may be used as a means of empowering other Black women to venture into areas or arenas that tend to be occupied by white men and/or women.

Additionally, the discussion will touch on the importance of mentoring Black girls and young Black women, as a way of encouraging the future generation to be empowered, 'take up space' and make an impact on campus and in our communities. Plus, a major takeaway will be that a Black female community will be formed in Fredericton and there may also be various networking opportunities as a result.

Motivational speech by Neil Clements

  • Time: 7 p.m.
  • Location: The Saint John Free Public Library, 1 Market Square, Saint John

In this personal discussion, lawyer Neil Clements will deliver a keynote address about his experience as one of New Brunswick’s first African Canadian lawyers in New Brunswick, and what motivated him to pursue a degree in law.

Thursday, Feb. 20

The UNB History Department’s 4th Annual Black History Month Public Lecture: The Honourable Leonard Braithwaite: Black Canadians and Civic Belonging in Postwar Ontario, featuring Dr. Barrington Walker

  • Time: 7 - 9 p.m.
  • Location: Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, 23 Dineen Dr., Fredericton

In this Black History Month public lecture, Barrington Walker considers the life of Leonard Braithwaite, an Ontario M.P. and one of the first Black Canadians elected to a parliamentary body in Canada. Dr. Walker’s research suggests that Braithwaite was both an agent of change and a figure through which we can map Ontario’s shift—albeit contested- from a post-slavery settler-colony with a long history of racial exclusions to a racially unmoored (at least formally) concept of Ontario’s polity, of civic belonging in the province. Dr. Walker argues that it is this move that situates Braithwaite’s modernizing or ‘multiculturalizing’ influence upon Ontario and the nation. Dr. Barrington Walker is Wilfrid Laurier University’s new Senior Advisor: Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and a distinguished scholar of Modern Canada who focuses on the histories of Blacks, race immigration and the law. He is the author of Race on Trial: Black Defendants in Ontario's Criminal Courts (University of Toronto Press and the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History, 2010). He has also edited two collections: The African Canadian Legal Odyssey: Historical Essays (University of Toronto Press and the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History, 2012) and The History of Immigration and Racism in Canada: Essential Readings (Canadian Scholars Press, 2008).

Friday, Feb. 21 to March 27

Rediscovering the Roots of Black New Brunswickers

  • Date/Time: Exhibit opening on Feb. 21, 5 p.m.
  • Location: Memorial Hall, 9 Bailey Dr., UNB, Fredericton

Join the UNB Art Centre for a special celebration of the lives and accomplishments of some of New Brunswick’s most outstanding Black citizens. Rediscovering the Roots of Black New Brunswickers opens at the UNB Art Centre on February 21 at 5 p.m. and runs through March 27. The opening will feature poetry readings by UNB students Thandiwe McCarthy and Chevelle Malcolm.

The exhibition is part of a larger project to bring to light those Black New Brunswickers who have made a significant contribution to shaping contemporary New Brunswick in their fight for freedom and equality. In conjunction with the Bi-Campus Standing Committee on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Human Rights and the Black History Month Organizing Committee at UNB, the UNB Art Centre spearheaded a research project to uncover significant Black New Brunswickers and develop a poster project for display at UNB’s Student Union Building on the Fredericton campus and at UNB’s Saint John campus.

Sunday, Feb. 23

Black History Month film series: Harriet

  • Time: 2 p.m.
  • Location: The Saint John Free Public Library, 1 Market Square, Saint John

From her escape from slavery through the dangerous missions she led to liberate hundreds of slaves through the Underground Railroad, the story of heroic abolitionist Harriet Tubman is told. Directed by Kari Lemmons.

Wednesday, Feb. 26

Being Black on Campus: Lunch and Discussion for Black Identified Students at UNB

  • Time: Noon to 2 p.m.
  • Location: UNB, Fredericton Campus. Location to be determined. Please check back soon for updates.

UNB students of African descent are invited to gather for food and refreshments and engage in discussion about their experiences on campus. Students who participated in January’s Cellphilm workshop will also be screening the films they created based on their experiences as Black identified students at UNB.

Wednesday, Feb. 26

Neil Clements, “Success by Mistake – Failure OFF Purpose”

  • Time: 5 – 7 p.m.
  • Location: UNB Law, 41 Dineen Drive, UNB Fredericton

In Celebration of Black History Month, UNB Law along with the UNB Black Law Students' Association is hosting alumnus Neil Clements. Mr. Clements, Saint John’s first black lawyer in over 200 years, will share his life journey and discuss the “Slight Edge” philosophy to create and live a life worthwhile.

Media contact: Hilary Creamer Robinson

Photo: Major Walter Peters (1937 – 2013) was the first Canadian-born Black jet fighter pilot in Royal Canadian Air Force history. He was also the first Human Rights Officer in the Canadian Armed Forces and served as an advisor to the to the United Nations Security Council. Major Peters portrait and profile are part of the Rediscovering the Roots of Black New Brunswickers poster campaign and exhibit. Credit: UNB Archives.