All too often history overlooks certain groups of people in society when retelling our past. When we rely only the history that reflects on our own social, cultural, ethnic or racial group, we fail to learn about and appreciate the complex tapestry of lives, social conditions, movements and struggles that contributed to who we are as a society today. Black History Month provides an opportunity to learn about the rich history of black people in Canada and in our own communities.
In Waterloo County, we have been fortunate to have had researchers like Linda Brown-Kubisch, a former KPL staff member, who have worked to highlight the neglected history of black residents. In her excellent article, “In Search of Freedom: Early Blacks in Waterloo County” in the 1992 Waterloo Historical Society annual volume (v.80, p.46-57), Brown-Kubisch introduces us to John and Eliza Little, early black settlers in the Queen’s Bush, who had escaped slavery via the Underground Railroad, businessman and political hopeful, Peter Edward Susand and wife, Elizabeth, educator, John Frederick Augustus Sykes Fayette, ex-slave, Levi Carroll, barrister, Robert Sutherland, and Sophia Burthen Pooley, a former slave of the family of Joseph Brant and Samuel Hatt. Linda’s seminal work, The Queen’s Bush Settlement : Black Pioneers, 1839-1865, delved into the history of the black community located in Wellesley Township and neighbouring jurisdictions. Sadly, Linda passed away just as her book was being published.
Joanna Rickert-Hall is continuing Linda’s legacy with her ongoing research into the lives and social conditions of the black community in Waterloo County. As a researcher, blogger, educator and historian, Joanna will share some of the forgotten stories of early 19th century black settlement in Waterloo Region. Joanna’s passion for local and social history is infectious and inspiring. I’m always in awe of her appetite for details and facts and the subtle nuances of history.
Please join me on Thursday 25 February 2016 at 7pm for Joanna’s talk on the Black History of Waterloo County at the Country Hills Library, 1500 Block Line Road, Kitchener. No registration is required and parking is free. Country Hills Library is adjacent to St. Mary’s High School.