Viola Desmond – Pioneer of Black Rights

I like to highlight women who have had a positive impact on our history, but whose names I never heard while in school since most of the literature taught in schools is written by white male authors. I am hoping that this has now changed and kids are now learning about Viola Desmond in history class.

Throughout history, there have always been women who pushed back against the rules society set for them.

wells-theatre-210914_1920July 6th marks Viola Desmond’s birthday, which is why I chose to speak about her today. She was born in 1914 in Nova Scotia.

Viola Desmond is the first Canadian woman to appear on our currency, other than the Queen of England. She was chosen to appear on the $10 bill because she was a pioneer of Black rights in Nova Scotia. The city of  Montreal is naming a street after her. I am so happy she is finally being recognized for her courage.

On Nov. 8, 1946, Desmond went to a movie at New Glasgow’s Roseland Theatre and after purchasing her ticket, she sat in the lower bowl. When the manager informed her that seating area was for white patrons only, she refused to leave. She was forcibly removed from her seat, jailed and fined for this act of defiance. Viola fought the charges and was eventually pardoned in 2010, 45 years after her death.

Women are amazing and a lot of times the true back bone of some serious History. We just don’t always hear of these amazing women.

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