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Well, February has passed me by with some very cold temperatures here in Ontario, Canada, but with less snow than we used to endure where we previously lived before moving here. Now, I don’t know about you, but I tend to cocoon during the winter months, cold and snow not being among a few of my favourite things. And sometimes painting and writing even became difficult. Cuddling up with a blanket and my darlin’ and a good book, or watching tv ranks higher during those dark, vitamin D deficient days.
Consequently, I did not finish a blog post for February. It was, however, an important month. It was International Black History Month here in Canada, although it was started in the United States in 1926 by historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. It has received official recognition from governments in the United States and in Canada, and more recently has been observed unofficially in Ireland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.
I wanted to post something on my facebook profile that would educate someone or shine a light on something important, and during my search for historical figures in Canada, for example, our Lincoln Alexander, a lawyer and the first black Member of Parliament the House of Commons. (1960-1980) He became Lieutenant-governor of Ontario 1985–91. The 21st of January has been celebrated as Lincoln Alexander Day across Canada since 2015.
We met this man, during an unveiling of a plaque in Otterville, where he was the official guest. The plaque commemorates the African Methodist Episcopal Church and Cemetery. Beginning in 1829 escaped slaves fled persecution in the United States and found homes in the Otterville area. In 1856, trustees of the African Methodist Episcopal Church purchased the half-acre lot and built the first Black church in Oxford County. Later the church was transferred to the newly established British Methodist Episcopal denomination. Its cemetery is one of the few preserved Black pioneer burial grounds in Ontario, Canada. So states this amazing plaque.
My husband’s grandfather was the Minister at that church, after being a garbage man and milkman. That is the reason we, as members of the Hollingsworth clan, were invited to attend. It was an honour and a privilege to attend and meet family members, many of whom we were unaware.
There was one with whom we were very aware, however. Joey Hollingsworth, my husband Darryl’s cousin.
A Canadian man famous for his tap dancing received a lifetime achievement award from the Ontario Black History Society. Joey Hollingsworth, born in London, Ontario, broke racial barriers through his televised performances.
He received the society's first-ever lifetime achievement award at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. His career led him to appear on many TV shows in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. "I did [CBC's] Pick the Stars in 1954," he said. Hollingsworth also helped make a name for himself when he appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1962.
You can find this information and more here: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/hollingsworth-lifetime-achievement-1.4507784 as well as other places online.
I didn’t have to search far to find this famous Black talent and historical figure, a member of our family, later posing for photos with Darryl, our son Jeremy, and Lincoln Alexander, not long before the latter passed away.
I learned a great deal when we attended that unveiling, and I learned more upon reaching out again and talking with Joey Hollingsworth. February was not a lost month, but rather a revealing and interesting month.
It is good to learn, and learning should never cease, but continue as a life-long pursuit. You never know just what you might find!
Now we are in March, International Women’s History Month! What treasures will I learn about now?