February is Black History Month in Canada and the US. It is also known as African-American History Month and it is observed annually for the remembrance of important people and events in the history of the African diaspora, particularly to the descendants of the West and Central Africans who were enslaved and shipped to the Americas ( mostly Brazil and US) by the way of the Atlantic slave trade.
For the last 5 weeks on Wednesday evenings there has been a mini series on television, “The Book of Negroes”, based on the award winning book by Lawrence Hill. I have been watching it and it is quite the movie with strong Nova Scotia connections!
The story follows Aminata Diallo who is forced into slavery as a child in West Africa and taken on a slave ship to the United States. She is put to work in an indigo plantation in South Carolina. After one of her slave owners takes her to New York City, she escapes to the safety of Canvas Town, an early Black settlement in lower Manhattan.
She survives the American Revolution, and helps register 3,000 black Loyalists in the Book of Negroes, a historic British military ledger that recorded their passage on ships sailing from Manhattan to Nova Scotia. Diallo ends up in Shelburne, settles and spends some time in nearby Birchtown. As an old woman, she eventually travels back to her homeland in Sierra Leone.
The series began filming in South Africa and has moved to a dozen different locations, including Shelburne and the historic Fortress of Louisbourg in Cape Breton. This was one of the biggest productions our region has ever seen. So I have really been looking forward to Wednesday evenings to see if I can catch a glimpse of familiar places. I remember hearing about it’s filming in our area and I remember back in May when we were finishing up in China seeing a pic of Academy Award winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr. at a friend’s son’s restaurant in Lunenburg when they were doing on location filming. He stopped at the Grand Banker and Adam got to meet him! Pretty cool!!!
Watching this movie has been a real eye opener, it’s hard to believe that people were really treated this way because of the color of their skin. I can’t imagine it. But then again, I guess people treat others pretty bad today for all different reasons. 😦
PS~ DID YOU KNOW? 2015 marks the launch of the Provincial Heritage Day holiday in Nova Scotia, honoring Viola Desmond (Februrary 16) and additionally, UNESCO has declared 2015 through to 2025 the “International Decade for People of African Descent: Justice, Recognition, Development.”