The Toronto Public Library has events, all free, that give you a chance to meet some of your Black neighbours and question them about their lives and passions.
On February 6, you can see Dan Hill whose most famous song is “Sometimes When We Touch.” Dan is also the author of I Am My Father’s Son: A Memoir of Love and Forgiveness. On February 7, you can learn about capoeira, the Afro-Brazilian martial arts that combines music and dance.
On February 9, you’ll find Dalton Higgins, an authority on hip hop, who is also a CTV and CBC broadcaster. He has written a biography about Drake, the famous rapper, songwriter, and actor. If you know nothing about it, here’s an opportunity to learn about an art form that has become a sub-culture.
You can also find out first hand about Toronto’s Black history, drumming, oware, calypso, soul, Njacko Backo who is taking African music into our schools, etc.
The Toronto Public Library’s Black History events website with many more possibilities and details is: http://bit.ly/WHM2i5.
If you don’t have time to go to an event, you can always borrow a book for free from the Toronto Public Library and read it at your leisure. Look for the Honourable Lincoln Alexander memoir: Go to School, You’re a Little Black Boy. Alexander was a member of Parliament, a federal cabinet minister, and the 24th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.
I’m currently reading Dalton Higgins’ Far from Over: the Music and Life of Drake, the Unofficial Story. I’m trying to get an insight into what young people are thinking these days because hip hop is influencing many groups, not just Blacks. The library’s list of Black History books is on: http://bit.ly/YkRaP2
The Toronto Public Library also holds more than 16,000 items in the Rita Cox Black and Caribbean Heritage Collection. http://bit.ly/Y2ePxO.
Exhibitions include 60 photographs of writer-photographer Beth Lesser’s work Reggae or Not: the Birth of Dance Hall Culture in Jamaica and Toronto. It’s at the Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen St. West until February 24.
The Black Star Collection at the Ryerson Image Centre, 33 Gould Street is featuring: Human Rights; Human Wrongs, 300 photos of historical Civil Rights Movement events including the 1965 marches from Selma to Montgomery, and Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech. It’s on until April 14 and is free. http://bit.ly/WXmI6F .
Other Events: On February 14 at 6pm will be the launch of the book The Great Black North, Contemporary African Canadian Poetry, Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George St. http://bit.ly/YrCb1U .
Films include The Last White Knight: Is Reconciliation Possible? Paul Saltzman who was attacked by the KKK in 1965, returns to Mississippi to converse with his attacker. The Star’s review is on: http://bit.ly/VBqTLu. It plays at the Bloor Cinema, 506 Bloor St. W. on February 4 at 6:30pm. $11. http://bloorcinema.com/movies/The-Last-White-Knight/
From February 2 to 19, TIFF Bell Lightbox is showing several films in the series L.A. Rebellion, African American film-making on the 1960s and 70s. Various prices. http://bit.ly/XgbJ8R
Talks: On Wednesday, February 20, 7:30pm, the North York Historical Society’s Annual General Meeting will be followed by guest speaker, Rosemary Sadlier, President, Ontario Black History Society and author. She will be speaking on “Rethinking Black Identity and Black Spaces.” Free. This will be at the North York Central Library Auditorium, 5120 Yonge Street. www.nyhs.ca .
Museum: The City of Toronto’s Mackenzie House at 82 Bond Street will explain about Black publisher Mary Ann Shadd every weekend in February from 10-5pm. See our 2011 blog on this museum at: http://bit.ly/11tfzmq . Link also to: http://www.toronto.ca/blackhistory/about.htm .
Please let us know if you hear of other free or nearly-free events and your thoughts about Black History Month. Do we really need such a month? How about an E.U. Month? Aboriginal Month?
I’m late getting out this blog on Black History Month events. Some have already taken place, alas. I hope you enjoyed Kuumba at Harbourfront this past weekend. I will also try to mention some free or almost-free events on Twitter.com/torontomulticul but Black History Month has so many events it’s hard to keep up.