African Heritage Month Timelines

In 1984, the Halifax City Regional Library (as it was previously known) recognized the need to acknowledge the history, culture, and achievement of the African Nova Scotian community. That year, in partnership with the Black United Front of Nova Scotia and writer/actor David Woods, the first celebration of Black History Week took place at the Halifax North Memorial Library on Gottingen Street. Although not initially held in February, the month normally designated for Black History Celebrations, the event went ahead with the purpose of celebrating the history of the Black community served by the library.

Some of the early Black History Month events included:

  • Discussions on the role of family, women of achievement, and the church in the Black community
  • Musical entertainment by groups such as Sonlight, Gospel Heirs and Four the Moment
  • Author readings by George Elliott Clarke and Itah Sadu
  • Youth rallies and special puppet shows like Africville Child
  • Special guests from the Jesse Jackson PUSH Excel program

As interest in the celebration of Black History Month grew around the province, the Library sought input from the citizens we serve and, in 1991, formed the Black History Month Association. The Association soon took over hosting the Opening Night celebration, a press conference, and youth day. In 1992, the Association hosted its first formal dinner and dance at the McInnis Room at Dalhousie University. The Black History Month Association still meets on a regular basis at Halifax North Memorial Public Library, coordinating and planning annual African Heritage Month events.

Over the years, the Library has continued to be committed to hosting events and programs as part of its contribution to African Heritage Month; programs which have included appearances by the likes of renowned children’s author, Richardo Keens Douglas, forums on issues that affect the African Nova Scotian community, afrocentric craft programs for children and film launches such as Sylvia Hamilton’s Black Mother Black Daughter.