Who was truly the Best?
Canada’s 150th anniversary marks the celebration of the long, authentic history of the diverse, ever-changing nation. Our country has survived a myriad of critical events: past treacherous wars from afar and inland; reconciliation between the Canadian political parties and the population; riots of racial discrimination; and so on. Yes, like our neighbour, the USA, Canada --too--has experienced a point in time where White supremacy dominated the Black population. However, it is the risks taken by bright, Black leaders and the approach Canada assumed at the time to resolve these complications that has ultimately resulted in an unforgettable outcome in Canadian history, which helped define the unique identity and spirit of Canada.
A special case to consider is the Black female advocator, Carrie Best.
Carrie Best entered an era of injustice in 1903. Little did she know that she would eventually become the first Canadian equivalent of Rosa Parks and be affiliated with what was later known as the Canadian Civil Rights movement.
As a child, she was always inspired by her mother, who held up strong as a calm Black woman in Nova Scotia. With the importance of education and her parents’ teachings laying the foundations of the household, Best sought to study and accept her Black heritage. With this in mind, Carrie Best was determined to be just like her mother who viewed every individual as equal. As a result, Best--herself--became a role model for others to look upon as she inevitably advocated on behalf of the Blacks who lacked the privilege to challenge racial discrimination.
The incident that sparked her long process in becoming a prominent Black Canadian writer, publisher, and human rights activist occurred in 1941 when she and her son simply wanted to enjoy a film at the nearby Roseland Theatre. After being roughly evacuated out of the theatre and penalized with a heavy fine due to what was known at the time as disrespect when they occupied reserved seats for the Whites, Best was intent on settling this outrageous action in court.
Although her first attempt to challenge the law was unfortunately overruled, it did not put an end to her determination to fight for civil rights and social justice. In fact, it led on to the launch of the very first Black-owned newspaper, The Clarion, in 1946.
Evidently, the initiation of the print proved that Best strived to promote the voice and expression of the Black population, which was silenced and buried under the authority of the White masses. Truly, one has finally obtained the courage to shed light to the other side of the story.
Notably, one of the most famous events published was the incident involving Viola Desmond in a similar theatrical situation that the Bests had once experienced. Not only did Best publicize the story to inform readers about Desmond’s unrighteous conviction, she also provided sound support to Desmond when she travelled all the way to Halifax to hear the case. This action was one of many contributions Best has engaged in in defending those against the racial backlash prompted by the past society and unjust legal system.
Defiantly, Best urged the idea that the pen was indeed mightier than the sword. Her words of wisdom brought news to life, spoke directly to the victims, and most importantly, enlightened the Black community of the current injustice that should no longer be tolerated. She awoke the minds of the unrest to battle alongside with her for equality. The accumulation of these various factors formed the foundation for Best’s support and motivation to perpetually continue in this civil rights phenomenon.
Fast forwarding to the future, Carrie Best has nonetheless dedicated her entire life to a multitude of human rights issues such that she gained recognition as Member of the Order of Canada in 1974.
Carrie Best’s daring attribute was the fuel that propelled her to conquer obstacles obstructing her route to success. Her emphasis on human rights and the abolishment of racism and segregation has never been more bold than ever as it held immense significance in the present creation of Canada’s diversity and establishment of our Multiculturalism policy.
Her accomplishments have formed the basis of her influential status that has unquestionably inspired numerous future generations like mine to execute endeavors like her’s well beyond her capacity. It is now up to us to empower individuals with her philosophy to reinforce what she believed in and to protect the innocent. We must truly be the best of the Best.
McLeod, Susanna. “Carrie Best.” Historica Canada, 10 Feb. 2016, www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/carrie-best/.