Captain (Padre) Imam Ryan Carter is a chaplain with the Royal Canadian Military College, based in Kingston, Ontario. Here he reflects on the significane of Black History Month to him as a Black Muslim Canadian.
For Black History Month, Muslim Link is hosting this session to explore the resistance and resilience of Black Muslims in Canada on February 21st at 6:30pm at Octopus Bookstore, 251 Bank Street. Purchase tickets online here.
The Justice for Abdirahman Coalition won the award for Community Leadership at Black History Ottawa's Community Builder Awards Ceremony, held during the launch of Black History Month on January 28, 2017.
Black History Month is celebrated annually in February in the United States and Canada. Its origins go back as far as 1926 with the establishment of “Negro History Week” in the United States during the second week of February. This week was chosen because both President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) and former slave-turned-human rights activist Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) were born during this week.
The first celebration of Black History Month occurred in 1970 at Kent State University and in 1976, under the presidency of Republican Gerald Ford, the Unites States government officially recognized February as Black History Month. In Canada, in 1995, Black Liberal MP Jean Augustine, who was the first Black woman to become a member of a federal cabinet, brought a motion forward to the House of Commons for the month’s recognition, and in 2008, Black Conservative Senator Donald Oliver, who was the first Black man appointed to the Senate, moved for the Senate to do the same; both motions were unanimously approved.
In honour of Black History Month, the Muslim Link’s Chelby Marie Daigle asked local Muslims -- both those who are Black and those who are not -- what Black History Month means to them.
For me, Black History Month is not only about celebrating the contributions of my fellow Black Canadians, it is about remembering the impact that the enslavement of Black peoples has had on Africa and the world. It's about building on the strengths of the Black community in Ottawa by working across the socio-economic, religious, ethno-cultural, and linguistic differences of the diversity of individuals who make up our community. It's about examining how anti-Black racism still exists within Canadian society and recommitting myself to challenging it by trying to understand why it persists and how it affects my life and the lives of my fellow Black Canadians.