Though mentioned in years gone by, I again wish to bring to your attention the important story of a victim of racial abuse that resulted in a 9 or 12 hour stay, (depending on sources) against her will in a Nova Scotia Jail back in 1946.
Her name was Viola Desmond, A person that has received lots of notice by this blog in years past.
Viola spent her earlier days watching her father in his barbed shop in Halifax. Soon she would join in and, in time, would become involved in serving the women in the Halifax and area Black women's community with her specially designed products.
Seeking more formal training, which was denied her locally, she took off to Montreal and then New York. There she sought the formal training and experience that the industry in Nova Scotia refused her.
Soon she'd bring her talents back home and started to create the products Black women sought. Local deliveries soon expanded throughout the province and beyond.
One such delivery led to her making history, or should I say, those dealing with her, making history not to be proud of.
En-route to North Eastern Nova Scotia her car broke down in the New Glasgow area. She was told repairs would result in the vehicle not being serviceable till the next day. She'd best get a hotel for the night. So she did, but it was early and so she decided to take in a movie.
And, as they day, the rest is history... or should I say herstory!
After checking into her hotel for the night, she decided to wander about town. Seeing the advertisement at the Roseland Theatre for the thriller called The Dark Mirror, she decided to buy a ticket and watch the show then head off to the hotel for a good night's sleep. But destiny had other plans.
Viola purchased a ticket and went to a lower seat. Soon she realized that she had been sold an upper balcony ticket and returned to teller to get the right ticket and was told that they could not sell tickets to lower area to people "like her".. ie Blacks. So she just returned to the lower seat anyway.
Soon an employee came and asked her to move saying she did not have a ticket. Yet she did, and showed him the ticket. But clearly it was for an upper seat.
Nevertheless, she was tired, wanted to be nearer the screen and refused to move. Soon the manager manager came along and also asked for her to relocate to the upper seats. When she refused, he went away but returned with a law enforcement officer. He arrested her and the two men then dragged her out of her seat and the theatre, her breaking a shoe and losing her purse, (later retrieved). She was taken to the local jail. There she was put in a barred cell alone. Near-bye was another with several male prisoners in it.
The next day she was taken to court, without counsel, and tried for the creative charge of trying to defraud the federal provincial treasury of one cent, that being the difference in the taxes due below versus the charges for the balcony. She was found guilty and had to pay the fine of $26. Six of these going to the theatre manager as he was acting as prosecutor for the government at the trial.
While this all occurred on 8/9 November 1946, It would many a year later become known as the Rosa Parks story of Canada. But when truth be known, the Rosa Parks story of refusing to take a bus seat at the back of the bus and leaving the forward seats to the whites, noted in past blogs, did not occur until 1955... nine years AFTER the Viola Desmond story. In reality the Americans should be remembering Rosa Parks as the Viola Desmond of the US.
Viola continued working and teaching the business to other Blacks and would venture off to Montreal and then New York. She passed away there in 1965. Her remains were returned to Halifax and laid to rest at the famed Camp Hill Cemetery.
Hope you join me then.