Carrie Best: A Pillar of Equality
Canada is among the top ten countries in the world, known for its peacefulness and kind inhabitants. Although, it was not always such easy living for all Canadians. Equality was a constant fight, where civil rights activists had to stand up against discrimination and fight for what they believed in. Carrie Best was a black activist and writer who owned a newspaper called “The Clarion” which she used to publicize cases of inequality. Carrie Best was an important person whose actions took a step towards the end of discrimination and the beginning of equality for African Canadians (Graham). Her dedication and bravery changed the lives of generations and made possible for Canada to be seen in color rather than black and white. Her actions inspire many African Canadian youth to stand up for what is right and to never give up on something you believe in.
Best was born in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia in the year 1903. Although the slavery abolition act took effect in the summer of 1834, discrimination was still a present factor in the everyday life of black Canadians(Henry). A few years before the Viola Desmond case in 1946, Best and her son were arrested and charged with “disturbing the peace’’ at the Roseland Theater in New Glasgow(Marshall). Several years later she founded the first black owned and black published newspaper in Nova Scotia, called “The Clarion”. Viola Desmond was another African Canadian woman who was arrested and fined for not paying the extra tax cent that it required to sit in the ‘’white’’ section of the theatre. Best heard of her story and was outraged at the inequality of the situation, she decided everyone had to know about Desmond’s plight and therefore publicized the case in the form of an article in her own newspaper. The article about Desmond was read throughout Nova Scotia, helping individuals recognize, as well as stand up against the discrimination towards African Canadians in the province.
By making public the story of Viola Desmond, Best challenged the racism that profoundly affected the lives of African Canadians in the province of Nova Scotia. Despite the presentation of article 26 in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states “(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit”(The Universal Declaration of Human Rights), in 1948, black and white children were still made to attend separate schools. Thence, together, Best and Viola “organized a group of African Canadians to lobby the Nova Scotia government, which finally repealed the law of segregation in 1954’’(Graham). This law also “nullified the use of legal segregated schools in Nova Scotia and helped to lay the foundation for the civil rights era (the '60s)’’(United Nations). The actions of Best and Desmond built the foundations for equality and created a province where every child of dark or light skin could live together under a new race; human.
Carrie Best was an civil rights activist who used her skills to help end discrimination and segregation towards African Canadians across Canada. Using her newspaper, “The Clarion” she publicized stories of inequality and discrimination, that would have never been heard otherwise. She made friends who helped her fight against the law of segregation and succeeded, demolishing the act. She spoke up for others, when others couldn’t speak for themselves and became their voice. Best used her time wisely and claimed a spot for herself in the history of African Canadians eternally. Her determination and perseverance will be forever remembered, and forever admired. African Canadians of the modern day need not forgot the resolve and conviction of past Canadians but follow in their footsteps and pave the way for future generations to come.
Black Canadians such as Mary Ann Shadd exemplify the rich heritage and identity of Canadian society. May Ann Shadd worked for the freedom of blacks, the improvement of the Canadian media and women’s suffrage, all of which were major contributions to our society. Pluralism is something that Canada prides itself on, and the works of people from all walks of life have fostered growth and inspiration in our nation. So many black Canadians have made an impact on the lives of every single member of our country, leaving a blazing legacy that helped to create the Canada that we are proud to call home.
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