It was something I heard in the documentary "Remembering Africville" that inspired a thought, that is turning into this post. In the short film, Mr. Alan Borovoy of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association said something that struck a cord. He said...
"Tomorrow's Africvilles will be no less screwed than today's"
I don't know why that felt like a cold splash of water to the face! Is it because I am tomorrow's Africville? Is it because I feel Mr. Borovoy predicted the future and the more things change, the more they stay the same? Or maybe it's a bunch of reasons, all wrapped into one? I don't know, but I do know he explained how I personally feel.
Mr. Borovoy breaks down how back in the Africville days, there were no organizations to speak for the former Africville residents. Even Rev. Donald Skeir, went on to explain how the leadership in those days came from the church! The Seaview African United Baptist Church was the closest thing to an organization the people of Africville had!
There was really not much structure at that point in time, in the sense of the general black population of Nova Scotia fighting social injustices as one entity. It was Africville against the City of Halifax, which was a fight where the City wasn't even close to playing by the rules. The former Africville residents basically had their lives stripped away, because they felt they had no other choice!
Fast forward to 1982, and that was the year the Africville Genealogy Society was created. It was Deborah Dixon, Linda Mantley, and Brenda Steed-Ross that started the organization 35 years ago. The Africville Genealogy Society has been put on the Africville Reunion every year for the former residents and descendants of Africville.
The Africville Genealogy Society was instrumental in the fight that was decades, over the Africville community with the City of Halifax. A lot of people, put a lot of time and energy fighting to get the City of Halifax to acknowledge that they destroyed the community.
From the beginning, the sense of community the people of Africville had was the backbone of the community. The love and pride throughout the community was easy to see, and just as apparent was the sense of togetherness in the community!
In 2002 Africville was declared a National Heritage site, and in 2004 the UN acknowledged what the City of Halifax did to the community as a crime against humanity.
In 2010, the former mayor of Halifax, Peter Kelly issued a public apology to the people of Africville. With the public apology also came 2.5 acres of land, and also 3 million dollars. The money was for building a replica of the Seaview African United Baptist Church, that is actually a museum. The Africville Museum is operated by an organization called the Africville Heritage Trust, which was created by the Africville Genealogy Society.
The former Africville residents and descendants came together, and this was the final decision made by the people. The plan was to rebuild the former church, and turn it into a museum to preserve the history of Africville. The Africville Museum and the organization that runs it the Africville Heritage Trust, wouldn't even exist if it wasn't for the Africville Genealogy Society.
So to say that the Africville Genealogy Society has helped the community of Africville by never giving up, is an understatement. Here is a great link to see how far the Africville Museum has come from being just an idea back in 2006! Here
From the former Africville residents to the future Africville descendants, I'd like to say thank you, the legacy of Africville lives on through all of us everywhere!