What do Mary Ann Shadd, Nathaniel Dett, Portia White, and Elijah McCoy have in common? Discovering that these famous Canadians who have made a difference were once young, gifted and black is interesting and illuminating to most people. But if you’re a young black kid yourself, just starting out, this knowledge could inspire you to reach, just a little higher, for the stars.
This is why the Oscar Peterson Concert Hall was the first and only venue considered for what has become an annual Montreal celebration kicking off Black History Month. Young, Gifted and Black showcases the talents of black youth through drama, music, dance, and spoken word.
Tetchena Bellange says that following the Haitian earthquake, it was as if the world stopped for several days.
At the time of the cataclysmic event, the documentary film director’s aunt Josette, 71, was in Haiti, taking care of her son who had been ill. The family heard from her, then lost touch. “Watching the news, I felt like dying,” Bellange said. “It was awful, a feeling in your belly pinching everywhere. We couldn’t eat or sleep.” In an act of inspiration and desperation, she sent an email to everyone, individuals and any media she found on the Net, pleading for news of Tante Josette.
An English Lit graduate and fiction writer, Maranda Moses admits history is not her main subject.
Yet a chance meeting in 2005 with then-Union United Church minister Rev. Darryl Gray led to Moses completing Proud Past, Bright Future. The book tells the story of Union United Church, which is, for many, the physical and emotional centre of Montreal’s black community.