Saturday, November 27, 2010

Black Mother Black Daughter - Nova Scotia Women of Color

Black Mother Black Daughter

 Rose Fortune was almost certainly the daughter of "Fortune — a free Negro", who came to Nova Scotia after the American War of Independence. He appears with his wife and a "child above ten" (probably Rose) in the muster roll of Loyalists at Annapolis in June 1784.

 Rose earned her living as a trucker at Annapolis Royal. She carried baggage by a heavy wheelbarrow for the many passengers who travelled on the Saint John-Digby-Annapolis ferry. She also on occasion provided other assistance to travellers, such as helping them find better accommodation. Rose had two daughters and two grandsons. Family tradition states that one of her customers was Judge Haliburton, who came to Annapolis Royal to conduct court for the day. He relied on Rose to waken him the next morning and get him on board ship so that he would be in Digby in time to hold court there. (Noted author T.C. Haliburton was a judge of the Supreme Court, 1841-1856.)

 Along with the carting and wake up services, Fortune established curfews and standards of behavior on the wharf.  Her words of enforcement established her as the first police woman in Canada. She told stragglers to move along and to clear the streets before she turned in.

 Although suffering from severe rheumatism in her later years, Rose continued to work until well into her seventies.

Black Mother Black Daughter
An NFB film by Claire Prieto & Sylvia Hamilton,

This is a wonderful film that chronicles the lives of Black Nova Scotian Women and their contributions to their communities socially, economically and spiritually as well as politically. We meet mothers and daughters and learn from them about some of their life experiences  in their Nova Scotian communities.

Try this link (Click Here) if the embedded video is not available.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Paul Robeson "Hero of the Week"

Paul Robeson is being honored as the Moral Hero of the Week at check it out.

Paul Leroy Robeson, born in New Jersey in 1898, earned an academic scholarship to Rutgers College in 1915. After graduation, Robeson went on to Columbia Law School. He paid his fees there by playing with the National Football League for three years. However, after briefly working in a law firm, Robeson turned to theater. He acted in films and on stage, and sang in concert, winning international acclaim. Outspoken in his criticism of racism, Robeson was blacklisted in the 1940s and 1950s because he refused to repudiate his leftist affiliation. Nonetheless, the NAACP gathered this large group of people to celebrate their presentation of the Spingarn Medal to Robeson for his achievements in 1945.  

Thursday, November 11, 2010

November 13, 2010 March on Washington

The organization Black Is Back, which held a march in Washingon last November will do it again this year. The group is unhappy with the policies of the Obama administration.

BIB is unhappy with the continuation of the foreign wars and with US foreign policy in Africa.
They are unhappy that Washington can give trillions to the Auto industry and Wall street yet have no offer of reparation to African Americans for centuries of slavery. Unjust imprisonment, unemployment and over the top foreclosures are also on their list.

Click here for more info.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Oakland protests the Mehserle Verdict

100 Arrested After CA Ex-Officer Gets 2 Years In Fatal Shooting
More than 100 protesters angered by the two-year prison sentence handed down to former Bay Area Rapid Transit police Officer Johannes Mehserle were arrested Friday night after marching from downtown Oakland into a residential area, where mobs smashed about a dozen car windshields and a police officer’s gun was snatched, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The marchers headed out of downtown after a peaceful rally outside City Hall, where as many as 500 people sang songs and heard speeches denouncing the sentence Mehserle received that day for the fatal shooting of unarmed transit rider Oscar Grant.

             Photo by Thomas Hawk

About 200 demonstrators surged into the streets as darkness fell. Several in the crowd said they had been headed to the transit station where Mehserle shot Grant early on Jan. 1, 2009. As word of the destination spread, officials closed the station, allowing trains to go through but not to stop. Police penned in the marchers about a mile from the station.

Oscar Grant was murdered and Oakland is not happy with the Mehserle Verdict.

Listen to the mother of slain Black Panther "Little Bobby Hutton"
decide for yourself just how much has changed.

Black Street Gangs in Los Angeles

This is a very interesting report which shows that from 1965 until 1969 there was virtually no street gang activity in the LA area. The gangs had all become politicized and were in fact working together for the good of the Black community. The federal and local police found this situation to be so undesirable that they in a very short time destroyed the young Black leadership by assassination, subversion, imprisonment on false charges in other words by any means necessary.

These actions on the part of the authorities left a vacuum for the present day gangs and if that wasn't enough the Feds injected massive doses of drugs into the community to insure that the people would become mired in an even bigger problem.

Black Street Gangs in Los Angeles: A History (excerpts from Territoriality Among African American Street Gangs in Los Angeles

Alejandro A. Alonso

In Los Angeles and other urban areas in the United States, the formation of street gangs increased at an alarming pace throughout the 1980s and 1990s. The Bloods and the Crips, the most well-known gangs of Los Angeles, are predominately African American[1] and they have steadily increased in number since their beginnings in 1969. In addition, there are approximately 600 Hispanic gangs in Los Angeles County with a growing Asian gang population numbering approximately 20,000 members.

Post WWII to 1965

The first major period of black gangs in Los Angeles began in the late 1940s and ended in 1965. There were black gangs in Los Angeles prior to this period, but they were small in numbers; little is known about the activity of these groups. Some of the black groups that existed in Los Angeles in the late 1920s and 1930s were the Boozies, Goodlows, Blogettes, Kelleys, and the Driver Brothers. Most of these groups were family oriented, and they referred to themselves as clubs.[2] Max Bond (1936:270) wrote briefly about a black gang of 15-year-old kids from the Central Avenue area that mostly stole automobile accessories and bicycles. It was not until the late 1940s that the first major black clubs surfaced on the East side[3] of Los Angeles near Jefferson High School in the Central Avenue area. This was the original settlement area of blacks in Los Angeles. South of 92nd Street in Watts and in the Jefferson Park/West Adams area on the West side, there were significant black populations. By 1960 several black clubs were operating on the West side[4] of Los Angeles, an area that had previously restricted black residents during the 1940s.

Several of the first black clubs to emerge in the late 1940s and early 1950s formed initially as a defensive reaction to combat much of the white violence that had been plaguing the black community for several years. In the surrounding communities of the original black ghetto of Central Avenue and Watts, and in the cities of Huntington Park and South Gate, white Angelenos were developing a dissatisfaction for the growing black population that was migrating from the South during WWII. During the 1940s, resentment from the white community grew as several blacks challenged the legal housing discrimination laws that prevented them from purchasing property outside the original settlement neighborhoods and integrate into the public schools. Areas outside of the original black settlement of Los Angeles were neighborhoods covered by legally enforced, racially restrictive covenants or deed restrictions. This practice, adapted by white homeowners, was established in 1922 and was designed to maintain social and racial homogeneity of neighborhoods by denying non-whites access to property ownership.

In Huntington Park, Bell, and South Gate, towns that were predominately white, teenagers formed some of the early street clubs during the 1940s. One of the most infamous clubs of that time was the Spook Hunters, a group of white teenagers that often attacked black youths. If blacks were seen outside of the black settlement area, which was roughly bounded by Slauson to the South, Alameda Avenue to the east, and Main[5] Street to the west, they were often attacked. The name of this club emphasized their racist attitude towards blacks, as “Spook” is a derogatory term used to identify blacks and “Hunters” highlighted their desire to attack blacks as their method of fighting integration and promoting residential segregation. Their animosity towards blacks was publicly known; the back of their club jackets displayed an animated black face with exaggerated facial features and a noose hanging around the neck. The Spook Hunters would often cross Alameda traveling west to violently attack black youths from the area. In Thrasher’s study of Chicago gangs, he observed a similar white gang in Chicago during the 1920s, the Dirty Dozens, who often attacked black youths with knives, blackjacks, and revolvers because of racial differences (Thrasher 1963:37). Raymond Wright was one of the founders of a black club called the Businessmen, a large East side club based at South Park between Slauson Avenue and Vernon Avenue. He stated that “you couldn’t pass Alameda, because those white boys in South Gate would set you on fire,”[6] and fear of attack among black youths was not, surprisingly, common. In 1941, white students at Fremont High School threatened blacks by burning them in effigy and displaying posters saying, “we want no ******s at this school” (Bunch 1990: 118). There were racial confrontations at Manual Arts High School on Vermont and 42nd Street, and at Adams High School during the 1940s (Davis 1990:293). In 1943, conflicts between blacks and whites occurred at 5th and San Pedro Streets, resulting in a riot on Central Avenue (Bunch 1990:118). white clubs in Inglewood, Gardena, and on the West side engaged in similar acts, but the Spook Hunters were the most violent of all white clubs in Los Angeles.

The black youths in Aliso Village, a housing project in East Los Angeles, started a club called the Devil Hunters in response to the Spook Hunters and other white clubs that were engaging in violent confrontations with blacks. The term "Devil" reflected how blacks viewed racist whites and Ku Klux Klan members. The Devil Hunters and other black residents fought back against white violence with their own form of violence. In 1944, nearly 100 frustrated black youths, who were denied jobs on the city’s streetcar system, attacked a passing streetcar and assaulted several white passengers (Collins 1980: 29). During the late 1940s and early 1950s, other neighborhood clubs emerged to fight the white establishment. Members of the Businessmen and other black clubs had several encounters with the Spook Hunters and other white clubs of the time.

During the 1960s, conflicts among the black clubs were growing and, as more white residents continued to move and the white clubs began to fade, the black clubs moved from interracial violence to intraracial violence. The Gladiators, based at 54th Street and Vermont Avenue, were the largest black club on the West side, and clashes between other black gangs were increasing as intra-racial violence between black club members was on the rise. By 1960 several clubs emerged on the West side and rivalry between East side and West side clubs developed, along with infighting among clubs organized on the same side of town (Figure 4.1). The Businessmen (an East side club) had a rivalry with both the Slausons (an East side club) and the Gladiators (a West side club). Even though more than 50 percent of the gangs active in Los Angeles were Hispanic, black gangs represented a significant proportion of gang incidents that were rapidly increasing in numbers (Study of Delinquent Gangs 1962: 1). During this time, disputes among these were handled by hand-to-hand combat and by the use of weapons, such as tire irons and knives, but murders were rare. In 1960, the six gang-related murders that occurred in Los Angeles were considered an extremely high number. At that point, black-on-black violence between the clubs was becoming a serious concern in Los Angeles. On the surface, the rivalry between East side and West side clubs was associated with altercations on the football field, disputes over girlfriends, and disagreements at parties, but most of their clashes were rooted in socioeconomic differences between the two. East side youths resented the upwardly mobile West side youths, because East side residents were viewed as economically inferior to those residents who lived on the West side. On the other hand, West side youths were considered less intimidating and lacking the skills to be street savvy and tough. In an effort to prove themselves equally tough, West side youths engaged in several confrontations with East side youths during the early 1960s.

Social-Political Period, 1965-1970

In the aftermath of the rebellion, young people, namely former club members from the community, began to build political institutions to contest social injustices, specifically police brutality, which sparked the 1965 Watts Riots. Following the Watts Riots, and throughout the rest of the 1960s, black groups were organizing and becoming politically radical.

For nearly five years, beginning in 1965, there were almost no active black street gangs in Los Angeles. Several reports that black gang activity was on the decline began to circulate (Klein 1971: 22). According to Sergeant Warren Johnson, “during the mid and late 1960s, juvenile gang activity in black neighborhoods was scarcely visible to the public at large and of minimal concern to south-central residents” (Cohen 1972). It was the formation of these new movements that offered black youths a vehicle of positive identification and self-affirmation that occupied the time and energies that might have been spent in gang activity. A sense of cohesiveness began to form, along with self-worth and positive identification, as pride pervaded the black community (Los Angeles Times 3/19/72).

After the Rebellion in 1965, club members began to organize neighborhood political groups to monitor the LAPD and to document their treatment towards blacks. Ron Wilkins (ex-member of the Slausons), created the Community Action Patrol (CAP) to monitor police abuses (Davis 1990:297), and William Sampson (ex-member of the Slausons), along with Gerald Aubry (ex-member of the Orientals), started the Sons of Watts, whose key function was to “police the police” (Obtola 1972:7). The B started a chapter in Los Angeles shortly after Huey Newton, and Bobby Seale started the Party in Oakland, California, in 1966. The BPP in Los Angeles also organized both the black on several high schools campuses in Los Angeles and the black, a meeting place for black residents concerning community issues on Florence and Broadway in 1967. Ron "Maulana" Karenga organized a nationalistic group called US Organization, and Tommy Jacquette organized the Self Leadership for All Nationalities Today (SLANT) in October of 1966 (Bullock 1969:67; Tyler 1982: 222). After splitting away from the US Organization, Hakim Jamal started the Malcolm X Foundation in 1968, and Robaire Nyjuky founded the Marxist Leninist Maoist (MLM) which had an office on 78th Street and San Pedro (Tyler 1983:237). Student Non-ViolentCoordinating Committee (SNCC), a national organization of black nationalists visited Los Angeles and opened an office on Central Avenue in 1967. Also during this period, Ron Karenga created Kwanza, a non-religious holiday that celebrates African heritage.

All these groups were formed in the wake of the 1965 rebellion to provide political support to the civil rights movement that was gaining strength within the black community of Los Angeles. There were several other black nationalist groups in Los Angeles, but the Panthers and US Organization were considered to have the largest following and the most political influence in the black community of Los Angeles following the Watts Rebellion. The BPP heavily recruited members from the Slausons, an East side club, while the US Organization had a large a following from the West side clubs, including the Gladiators, but members of both political groups came from a variety of different clubs from all over Los Angeles. _____________Carter was elected president of the Los Angeles Chapter of the black Panther Party (BPP), whose sole purpose was monitoring the actions of the Los Angeles Police Department. Several members of the black Panthers and the US Organization[7] headed by Ron “Maulana” Karenga, were at one time members of the black clubs of Los Angeles during the 1950s and early 1960s. Some experts have suggested that the rivalry between the BPP and US was rooted in previous club rivalry, but it was actually associated with the opposite philosophies of the two groups.

After the formation of several progressive groups in Los Angeles, local and federal law enforcement agencies began to target those groups that they viewed as a threat to society and the nation as a whole. The emerging black consciousness of the 1960s, that fueled the political movement, was viewed as hostile. The efforts of these political and militant groups to organize young blacks against police brutality were repressed by the FBI, because they specifically viewed the actions of the Panthers and other groups as subversive and a threat to the security of the nation. Chief Thomas Reddin of the Los Angeles Police Department retained the military model and police tactics that his predecessor (Chief Parker) had employed for sixteen years. Reddin believed that the black Panthers represented a major threat to the safety of his officers and their authority on the streets (Scheisl 1990: 168).

By 1967, the Panthers were one of the strongest black political groups in the nation, and by November 1968, J. Edgar Hoover dispatched a memorandum calling his field agents to “exploit all avenues of creating ...dissension within the ranks of the BPP” (Churchill and Wall 1990:63). This was accomplished by the use of counterintelligence (COINTELPRO) which are tactics designed to divide, conquer, weaken, and to make ineffective the actions of a particular organization. COINTELPRO tactics that the FBI began to use against the BPP to weaken its power base, were previously used during the 1940s and throughout the 1950s against the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and the Communist Party (CPUSA) in the United States (Churchill & Wall 1990:37). From 1968-1971, these tactics were used against the BPP to control and neutralize what was believed to be “a dangerous black political group.” The most vicious and unrestrained application of COINTELPRO techniques during the late 1960s and early 1970s was clearly reserved for the BPP (Churchill & Wall 1990:61; Horne 1995:13). 

Read more of this excellent report

see also


Friday, October 29, 2010

UK Black History Month (Canada)

Canada has it's history linked to Britain.
Canadian black history should definitely
figure in the picture somewhere. Eh?

I'm including a short youtube video
on African-Canadian History

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The African Diaspora in Britain: A podcast

I really enjoy snooping around itunes for informative podcasts.
I found this episode which was published in October 2009.
It's about 30 minutes long and packed with information.

« Episode 32: Africa and the Indian OceanPodcast Featured on American Historical Association Blog »

Episode 33: The African Diaspora in Britain
Marika Sherwood (senior research fellow, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, London) on the history of the African diaspora in Britain. She discusses aspects of her 2007 book After Abolition: Britain and the Slave Trade Since 1807, the 1945 Pan Africanist Congress in Manchester, and Pan-African biographies. Sherwood concludes by noting the inadequate treatment of black history in the UK school curriculum.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Making a Difference - Experiences of a Black British Serviceman

This is Allan Wilmot's story of serving in the Second World War. Allan was born in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1925 and served in the Royal Navy and the RAF.

There was no military tradition in my family. I enlisted because of patriotism and adventure. The West Indies gave full support to the mother country, Great Britain, in her conflict with Germany. My service began in June 1941. I served in the Royal Navy as an Ordinary Seaman until January 1944 when I was transferred to the Marine Section of the RAF. I was stationed in Kingston, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and South Wales, and was awarded four medals: 1939 — 45 Star, Atlantic Star, Defence Medal and War Medal.

While I was in the Royal Navy we swept shipping channels for mines and suspected objects, as well as escorting convoys from the east coast of America up to the Panama Canal. We also searched for survivors from torpedoed ships.

In the RAF my unit picked up aircrews shot down or ditched at sea. They could be any nationality. For example, we saw some airmen ditched in the Channel. Full-speed ahead, we went to pick them up. They turned out to be German airmen, shot down. Anyway, being on the humanitarian side we decided to pick them up and continued to pick up the other British airmen. In the boat, they all sat looking at each other. I know what was going through their minds — 'Well, we are very happy to still be alive and picked up by a British rescue ship.'

We also laid flare paths for the flying boats to land or take off at night and transported aircrews and maintenance crews to planes. Our other jobs included refuelling, re-loading bombs and towing sea-planes to dry docks.

Being black did make a difference in World War Two, although I treated each person as an individual, according to the initial approach. I know for a fact that Black American servicemen where confined to non-combatant units until late 1944 when the whole scene changed — all the black fighting units were suddenly sent over to fight in Italy and the Middle East to invade enemy-held territories. The black units were led by white American officers, until orders came from Washington that racial discrimination in the American armed forces should be discontinued. Then experienced black servicemen got the opportunity to move up the promotion process to commanding positions.

The British scene was different — there was no official racial discrimination in the services, but seniority promotion for a black serviceman was rare, even though you were qualified to do the job. Excuses for non-promotion were always there, so you were simply allowed to carry on in the ranks, regardless of your ability. They didn't want black personnel in charge of white servicemen.

But we were treated very well by white civilians because they were aware that you had left your safe country to face danger and help them in their time of need. And white British servicemen, in my case, were fine. In the navy, on a small ship, you have to live close, so you automatically become a close unit - whether afloat or ashore, any difficulties that arise are quickly sorted out. In the RAF, again when on air-sea rescue duties, you are together as a crew. Most of the time, I was the only black, so no problem, but when I was on other duties and had to mix, there were some problems — mostly caused by stereotyping. People would say things like 'Because you're black you don't need to wash' and 'Where did you learn to speak English, if you live in trees?' At first I took offence, but after deep consideration I came to the conclusion that it was best for me to try and re-educate my colleagues, which I did.

I did socialise and went on quite a few dates with white girls — it was a novelty at the time. Some of my black brothers got married in the process. This caused frictions with white families, but I think it's natural. They pictured their loved daughter falling in love with a black man, and maybe eventually going abroad to live in the jungle and never seen again. That is what they immediately saw. With the white servicemen it was sheer jealousy — 'Why him and not me?' was the cry. 'What has he got that I ain't got?'

I got along fine with the white Commonwealth personnel because apparently they had been warned not to compare West Indians with their native population. A few did step out of line, but were dealt with accordingly. But I didn't get along with white American GIs. They were reluctant to accept the fact that the British black servicemen were a different race in social outlook. Many of the white American GIs were from the southern states of America and, although they were in Europe (a very different social scene), they couldn't face the changes that took place. So we had open wars, especially in dance halls and various places of entertainment, with the local whites as back-up on our side.

The black American GIs were a different story. We got along very well indeed - we British black servicemen were their protectors. At times, they were attacked by groups of white GIs, especially if they were in the company of white girls. If they attempted to defend themselves against the white GIs, police were always at hand to arrest the black ones for the stockade, so we would go to their rescue and try to prevent them being arrested. Because the US GI police had no jurisdiction over British servicemen, we could defend them (and ourselves) until the British police arrived on the scene, along with the ambulance for the wounded.

I was not treated equally regards pay and promotions, etc, but I never protested. I was not involved with politics before I enlisted and I wasn't politically active during the war. My service changed my outlook, though. I was exposed to things that I only used to read about, like racism in the USA and other parts of the world. Since then I have taken part in protests as a veteran. I've been through the various war museums and libraries and discovered that most of the black countries that participated in the last world war were left out of the history books, as if we didn't exist. I support the West Indian Ex-servicemen Association, formed for the welfare of veterans and for collective recognition.

I would also say that military service had some benefits. I travelled extensively and saw things for myself and was able to form my own opinion of worldwide issues.

I returned home to Jamaica after the war in November 1946, but they weren't expecting us. No arrangements had been made by the government of Jamaica or the British military for our return. Then they got some form of rehabilitation going, but I was frustrated and returned to England, where I thought the prospects were better because they were in the process of rebuilding the country.

'WW2 People's War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can be found at'

Contributed by
    Annie Keane
Article ID:
Contributed on:
    27 October 2003

The Origin of Black History Month in the UK

Linda Bellos introduced Black History Month to the UK in 1987, she was born to a white Jewish British mother and Nigerian father and grew up in London.

As a child she heard white people tell her mother that she had betrayed ‘our boys’ by marrying a black man after the sacrifices White people had made in 2nd World War.

Linda later discovered that her father had volunteered for the Merchant Navy to help the mother country.

She also discovered that during the 2nd World War 2.5 million Indian/Pakistani/Sri Lankan/Bangladeshi men and women where involved in the War efforts and 1.5 million during the 1st World War.

Linda Bellos, Part 1 of 3, Black History Month Opening Address

Part 2 of 3

Part 3 of 3

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr.

No account of Black History Month is complete
without mentioning Marcus Garvey.

Born Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr.
17 August 1887
St. Ann's Bay, Jamaica

Died 10 June 1940 (aged 52)
London, England

Occupation Publisher, Journalist

Known for Activism, National Hero of Jamaica

Religion Roman Catholic

Parents Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Sr.
Sarah Jane Richards






Thursday, October 14, 2010

National Heroes of Jamaica

Bob Marley & The Wailers - Smile Jamaica Download This Song: iTunes

History of the British Empire

Time for a little break.

jetblakink | February 05, 2010
Queen Victoria, the monarchy, and the British Empire are built on theft, bloodshed and murder. The link between Great Britain, Africa, slavery, India, Afghanistan and many other ugly truths manifesting themselves in some form today, tends not to be widely taught in the UK. The result is that many people, even citizens of England live in absolute ignorance about how their country became a power in the world. However, this most excellent sketch by CBBC children TV show: Horrible Histories, episode 11, exposes the story for all and sundry.

People from the Caribbean supporting the war effort.

This is an interesting film to view for Black History Month.

BFIfilms | September 08, 2009

In this film, made during the Second World War by the Ministry of Information, a group of West Indians, led by Una Marson and Learie Constantine, assemble at Broadcasting House in London. They describe to listeners of a popular BBC radio series, 'Calling the West Indies', how people from the Caribbean are supporting the war effort. Constantine speaks about factory workers, and introduces some war-workers, including Ulric Cross, a bomber navigator from Trinidad. Cross tells of his work in the RAF and Carlton Fairweather introduces a film about lumbermen from British Honduras. The film ends with a dance in the BBC studio. (Stephen Bourne)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Black Britons ( Black History Month)

These videos have been designed as Lesson Starters - (key stage 3 for Teachers TV in English schools)

1 0f 4 - Black Britons

Britain's Black History 2 of 4 - Coffee Houses and the Slave "Trade"

Britain's Black History 3 of 4 - Gold

Britain's Black History 4 of 4 - The Obelisk

Black History Month in Germany (ATLANTIC REVIEW)

Americans and Brits don't have a monopoly on Black History or Black History month. I found a very interesting article in the Atlantic Review that shed some light on Black History Month in Germany.

Black History Month in Germany

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Slavery in Gloucestershire

Capturing Africans

The ownership of enslaved Africans was widespread in Gloucestershire. Headstones and historical document give us clues about these people's lives both before abolition and later as free men.

The ownership of enslaved Africans was still common in Gloucestershire during latter half of the 18th century. Baptism and burial records from the period using terms such as 'black slave' and 'a black negroe' have been found from Sherborne, Twyning, Stroud, Nympsfield, Tidenham and Littledean.

A gravestone inscription at Newent dated 7 October 1829 remembers Thomas Bloomsbury 'a native of Africa and for...55 years a faithful servant to the late Samuel Richardson Esq'.

And even at the turn of the century, records suggest that new servants – in some cases of a very young age - were still arriving from Africa. In Stroud on 7 May 1801 William Ellis, son of Qualquay Assedew, 'a Negro of Guinea', aged 12 years, was baptised.

However some were also acquiring skills and going into professions. A testimonial from Richard Raikes dated 5 July 1815 is supporting the application of John Hart, Writing Master, to the post of master at Bisley Blue Coat School.
Nevertheless, he still states: 'Unfortunately he is a Mulatto, a native of the West Indies...where so dark a complexion is not objected to, he would make a very valuable Schoolmaster...’
Mixed race relationships were also known. In Tetbury on 10 March 1827 Mary Ann Elding, 'about 40 years old', was buried. Records state that she was 'a travelling woman, the wife of a man of colour'.


Many former slaves experienced hardship, some turning to crime. At Littledean on 24 March 1849 John Collins, a sailor, native of Antigua, aged 19, was sentenced to two months' hard labour for larceny. The goal register states that he 'left his home 10 years ago. Since then has been at sea in a merchant ship'.

Also at Littledean on 6 September 1867 'Henry Dyson, 20, Antigua; David Hunt, 25, W. Indies; Emmanuel Davidson, 22, W. Indies; all Men of Colour together with James Kear, 24, W. Indies, Mulatto; Mariners; jointly charged with stealing a wooden bottle and a quantity of bread & cheese & cider'. They were remanded overnight.

There are well-documented details of the lives, achievements and contributions made to British society by an array of people of African descent born, brought to or living in Britain from the early 19th century. They cover almost every field of endeavour, from politics and medicine to sport and entertainment.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Black Man and Hollywood

Keidi Obi Awadu

Claudia Jones The Black Woman that created London Carnival

Trinidadian Claudia Jones was a civil rights worker, refugee and journalist. She set up the first ever weekly West Indian paper and in 1959 in response to the racist riots of 1958 created the first ever carnival. She also campaigned against racist immigration and for decent housing for immigrants from the Commonwealth who had been invited to Britain by Enoch Powell

Claudia Jones 1

Claudia Jones 2

Claudia Jones 3

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

from the HISTORY OF MARY PRINCE (excerpt)





I am often much vexed, and I feel great sorrow when I hear some people in this country say, that the slaves do not need better usage, and do not want to be free.[16] They believe the foreign people,[17] who deceive them, and say slaves are happy. I say, Not so. How can slaves be happy when they have the halter round their neck and the [23]whip upon their back? and are disgraced and thought no more of than beasts?—and are separated from their mothers, and husbands, and children, and sisters, just as cattle are sold and separated? Is it happiness for a driver in the field to take down his wife or sister or child, and strip them, and whip them in such a disgraceful manner?—women that have had children exposed in the open field to shame! There is no modesty or decency shown by the owner to his slaves; men, women, and children are exposed alike.

Since I have been here I have often wondered how English people can go out into the West Indies and act in such a beastly manner. But when they go to the West Indies, they forget God and all feeling of shame, I think, since they can see and do such things. They tie up slaves like hogs—moor[18] them up like cattle, and they lick them, so as hogs, or cattle, or horses never were flogged;—and yet they come home and say, and make some good people believe, that slaves don't want to get out of slavery. But they put a cloak about the truth. It is not so. All slaves want to be free—to be free is very sweet. I will say the truth to English people who may read this history that my good friend, Miss S——, is now writing down for me. I have been a slave myself—I know what slaves feel—I can tell by myself what other slaves feel, and by what they have told me. The man that says slaves be quite happy in slavery—that they don't want to be free—that man is either ignorant or a lying person. I never heard a slave say so. I never heard a Buckra man say so, till I heard tell of it in England. Such people ought to be ashamed of themselves.

They can't do without slaves, they say. What's the reason they can't do without slaves as well as in England? No slaves here—no whips—no stocks—no punishment, except for wicked people. They hire servants in England; and if they don't like them, they send them away: they can't lick them. Let them work ever so hard in England, they are far better off than slaves. If they get a bad master, they give warning and go hire to another. They have their liberty. That's just what we want. We don't mind hard work, if we had proper treatment, and proper wages like English servants, and proper time given in the week to keep us from breaking the Sabbath. But they won't give it: they will have work—work—work, night and day, sick or well, till we are quite done up; and we must not speak up nor look amiss, however much we be abused. And then when we are quite done up, who cares for us, more than for a lame horse? This is slavery. I tell it, to let English people know the truth; and I hope they will never leave off to pray God, and call loud to the great King of England, till all the poor blacks be given free, and slavery done up for evermore.

Click to download  The History of Mary Prince by Mary Prince 
compliments of Project Guttenberg.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Excerpt from "The Negro Problem" P.L. Dunbar

Representative American Negroes

    An enumeration of some of the noteworthy American Negroes of to-day and yesterday, with some account of their lives and their work. In this paper Mr. Dunbar has turned out his largest and most successful picture of the colored people. It is a noble canvas crowded with heroic figures.

In considering who and what are representative Negroes there are circumstances which compel one to question what is a representative man of the colored race. Some men are born great, some achieve greatness and others lived during the reconstruction period. To have achieved something for the betterment of his race rather than for the aggrandizement of himself, seems to be a man's best title to be called representative. The street corner politician, who through questionable methods or even through skillful manipulation, succeeds in securing the janitorship of the Court House, may be written up in the local papers as "representative," but is he?

I have in mind a young man in Baltimore, Bernard Taylor by name, who to me is more truly representative of the race than half of the "Judges," "Colonels," "Doctors" and "Honorables" whose stock cuts burden the pages of our negro journals week after week. I have said that he is young. Beyond that he is quiet and unobtrusive; but quiet as he is, the worth of his work can be somewhat estimated when it is known that he has set the standard for young men in a city that has the largest colored population in the world.

It is not that as an individual he has ridden to success one enterprise after another. It is not that he has shown capabilities far beyond his years, nor yet that his personal energy will not let him stop at one triumph. The importance of him lies in the fact that his influence upon his fellows is all for good, and in a large community of young Negroes the worth of this cannot be over-estimated. He has taught them that striving is worth while, and by the very force of his example of industry and perseverance, he stands out from the mass. He does not tell how to do things, he does them. Nothing has contributed more to his success than his alertness, and nothing has been more closely followed by his observers, and yet I sometimes wonder when looking at him, how old he must be, how world weary, before the race turns from its worship of the political janitor and says of him, "this is one of our representative men."

This, however, is a matter of values and neither the negro himself, his friends, his enemies, his lauders, nor his critics has grown quite certain in appraising these. The rabid agitator who goes about the land preaching the independence and glory of his race, and by his very mouthings retarding both, the saintly missionary, whose only mission is like that of "Pooh Bah," to be insulted; the man of the cloth who thunders against the sins of the world and from whom honest women draw away their skirts, the man who talks temperance and tipples high-balls—these are not representative, and whatever their station in life, they should be rated at their proper value, for there is a difference between attainment and achievement.

Under the pure light of reason, the ignorant carpet bagger judge is a person and not a personality. The illiterate and inefficient black man, whom circumstance put into Congress, was "a representative" but was not representative. So the peculiar conditions of the days immediately after the war have made it necessary to draw fine distinctions.

When Robert Smalls, a slave, piloted the Confederate ship Planter out of Charleston Harbor under the very guns of the men who were employing him, who owned him, his body, his soul, and the husk of his allegiance, and brought it over to the Union, it is a question which forty years has not settled as to whether he was a hero or a felon, a patriot or a traitor. So much has been said of the old Negro's fidelity to his masters that something different might have been expected of him. But take the singular conditions: the first faint streaks of a long delayed dawn had just begun to illumine the sky and this black pilot with his face turned toward the East had no eye for the darkness behind him. He had no time to analyze his position, the right or wrong of it. He had no opportunity to question whether it was loyalty to a union in which he aspired to citizenship, or disloyalty to his masters of the despised confederacy. It was not a time to argue, it was a time to do; and with rare power of decision, skill of action and with indomitable courage, he steered the good ship Planter past Fort Johnson, past Fort Sumter, past Morris Island, out where the flag, the flag of his hopes and fears floated over the federal fleet. And Robert Smalls had done something, something that made him loved and hated, praised and maligned, revered and despised, but something that made him representative of the best that there is in sturdy Negro manhood.

It may seem a far cry from Robert Smalls, the pilot of the Planter, to Booker T. Washington, Principal of the Institute at Tuskegee, Alabama. But much the same traits of character have made the success of the two men; the knowledge of what to do, the courage to do it, and the following out of a single purpose. They are both pilots, and the waters through which their helms have swung have been equally stormy. The methods of both have been questioned; but singularly neither one has stopped to question himself, but has gone straight on to his goal over the barriers of criticism, malice and distrust. The secret of Mr. Washington's power is organization, and organization after all is only a concentration of force. This concentration only expresses his own personality, in which every trait and quality tend toward one definite end. They say of this man that he is a man of one idea, but that one is a great one and he has merely concentrated all his powers upon it; in other words he has organized himself and gone forth to gather in whatever about him was essential.

Pilot he is, steadfast and unafraid, strong in his own belief,—yes strong enough to make others believe in him. Without doubt or skepticism, himself he has confounded the skeptics.

Less statesmanlike than Douglass, less scholarly than DuBois, less eloquent than the late J.C. Price, he is yet the foremost figure in Negro national life. He is a great educator and a great man, and though one may not always agree with him, one must always respect him. The race has produced no more adroit diplomatist than he. The statement is broad but there is no better proof of it than the fact that while he is our most astute politician, he has succeeded in convincing both himself and the country that he is not in politics. He has none of the qualities of the curb-stone politician. He is bigger, broader, better, and the highest compliment that could be paid him is that through all his ups and downs, with all he has seen of humanity, he has kept his faith and his ideals. While Mr. Washington stands pre-eminent in his race there are other names that must be mentioned with him as co-workers in the education of the world, names that for lack of time can be only mentioned and passed.

W.H. Council, of Normal, Alabama, has been doing at his school a good and great work along the same lines as Tuskegee. R.R. Wright, of the State College of Georgia, "We'se a-risin' Wright," he is called, and by his own life and work for his people he has made true the boyish prophecy which in the old days inspired Whittier's poem. Three decades ago this was his message from the lowly South, "Tell 'em we'se a-risin," and by thought, by word, by deed, he has been "Tellin' em so" ever since. The old Southern school has melted into the misty shades of an unregretted past. A new generation, new issues, new conditions, have replaced the old, but the boy who sent that message from the heart of the Southland to the North's heart of hearts has risen, and a martyred President did not blush to call him friend.

So much of the Negro's time has been given to the making of teachers that it is difficult to stop when one has begun enumerating some of those who have stood out more than usually forceful. For my part, there are two more whom I cannot pass over. Kelly Miller, of Howard University, Washington, D.C., is another instructor far above the average. He is a mathematician and a thinker. The world has long been convinced of what the colored man could do in music and in oratory, but it has always been skeptical, when he is to be considered as a student of any exact science. Miller, in his own person, has settled all that. He finished at Johns Hopkins where they will remember him. He is not only a teacher but an author who writes with authority upon his chosen themes, whether he is always known as a Negro writer or not. He is endowed with an accurate, analytical mind, and the most engaging blackness, for which some of us thank God, because there can be no argument as to the source of his mental powers.

Now of the other, William E.B. DuBois, what shall be said? Educator and author, political economist and poet, an Eastern man against a Southern back-ground, he looms up strong, vivid and in bold relief. I say looms advisedly, because, intellectually, there is something so distinctively big about the man. Since the death of the aged Dr. Crummell, we have had no such ripe and finished scholar. Dr. DuBois, Harvard gave him to us, and there he received his Ph.D., impresses one as having reduced all life and all literature to a perfect system. There is about him a fascinating calm of certain power, whether as a searcher after economic facts, under the wing of the University of Pennsylvania, or defying the "powers that be" in a Negro college or leading his pupils along the way of light, one always feels in him this same sense of conscious, restrained, but assured force.

Some years ago in the course of his researches, he took occasion to tell his own people some plain hard truths, and oh, what a howl of protest and denunciation went up from their assembled throats, but it never once disturbed his magnificent calm. He believed what he had said, and not for a single moment did he think of abandoning his position.

He goes at truth as a hard-riding old English squire would take a difficult fence. Let the ditch be beyond if it will.

Dr. DuBois would be the first to disclaim the name of poet but everything outside of his statistical work convicts him. The rhythm of his style, his fancy, his imagery, all bid him bide with those whose souls go singing by a golden way. He has written a number of notable pamphlets and books, the latest of which is "The Soul of the Black Folk," an invaluable contribution to the discussion of the race problem by a man who knows whereof he speaks.

Dr. DuBois is at Atlanta University and has had every opportunity to observe all the phases of America's great question, and I wish I might write at length of his books.

It may be urged that too much time has already been taken up with the educational side of the Negro, but the reasonableness of this must become apparent when one remembers that for the last forty years the most helpful men of the race have come from the ranks of its teachers, and few of those who have finally done any big thing, but have at some time or other held the scepter of authority in a school. They may have changed later and grown, indeed they must have done so, but the fact remains that their poise, their discipline, the impulse for their growth came largely from their work in the school room.

There is perhaps no more notable example of this phase of Negro life than the Hon. Richard Theodore Greener, our present Consul at Vladivostok. He was, I believe, the first of our race to graduate from Harvard and he has always been regarded as one of the most scholarly men who, through the touch of Negro blood, belongs to us. He has been historian, journalist and lecturer, but back of all this he was a teacher; and for years after his graduation he was a distinguished professor at the most famous of all the old Negro colleges. This institution is now a thing of the past, but the men who knew it in its palmy days speak of it still with longing and regret. It is claimed, and from the names and qualities of the men, not without justice, that no school for the higher education of the black man has furnished a finer curriculum or possessed a better equipped or more efficient faculty. Among these, Richard T. Greener was a bright, particular star.

After the passing of the school, Mr. Greener turned to other activities. His highest characteristics were a fearless patience and a hope that buoyed him up through days of doubt and disappointment. Author and editor he was, but he was not satisfied with these. Beyond their scope were higher things that beckoned him. Politics, or perhaps better, political science, allured him, and he applied himself to a course that brought him into intimate contact with the leaders of his country, white and black. A man of wide information, great knowledge and close grasp of events he made himself invaluable to his party and then with his usual patience awaited his reward.

The story of how he came to his own cannot be told without just a shade of bitterness darkening the smile that one must give to it all. The cause for which he had worked triumphed. The men for whom he had striven gained their goal and now, Greener must be recognized, but—

Vladivostok, your dictionary will tell you, is a sea-port in the maritime Province of Siberia, situated on the Golden Horn of Peter the Great. It will tell you also that it is the chief Russian naval station on the Pacific. It is an out of the way place and one who has not the world-circling desire would rather hesitate before setting out thither. It was to this post that Mr. Greener was appointed.

"Exile," his friends did not hesitate to say. "Why didn't the Government make it a sentence instead of veiling it in the guise of an appointment?" asked others sarcastically.

"Will he go?" That was the general question that rose and fell, whispered and thundered about the new appointee, and in the midst of it all, silent and dignified, he kept his council. The next thing Washington knew he was gone. There was a gasp of astonishment and then things settled back into their former state of monotony and Greener was forgotten.

But in the eastern sky, darkness began to arise, the warning flash of danger swept across the heavens, the thunder drum of war began to roll. For a moment the world listened in breathless suspense, the suspense of horror. Louder and louder rose the thunder peal until it drowned every other sound in the ears of the nation, every other sound save the cries and wails of dying women and the shrieks of tortured children. Then France, England, Germany, Japan and America marshalled their forces and swept eastward to save and to avenge. The story of the Boxer uprising has been told, but little has been said of how Vladivostok, "A sea-port in the maritime Province of Siberia," became one of the most important points of communication with the outside world, and its Consul came frequently to be heard from by the State Department. And so Greener after years of patience and toil had come to his own. If the government had wished to get him out of the way, it had reckoned without China.

A new order of things has come into Negro-American politics and this man has become a part of it. It matters not that he began his work under the old regime. So did Judge Gibbs, a man eighty years of age, but he, too, has kept abreast of the times, and although the reminiscences in his delightful autobiography take one back to the hazy days when the land was young and politics a more strenuous thing than it is even now, when there was anarchy in Louisiana and civil war in Arkansas, when one shot first and questioned afterward; yet because his mind is still active, because he has changed his methods with the changing time, because his influence over young men is greatly potent still; he is, in the race, perhaps, the best representative of what the old has brought to the new.

Beside him strong, forceful, commanding, stands the figure of George H. White, whose farewell speech before the Fifty-sixth Congress, when through the disfranchisement of Negroes he was defeated for re-election, stirred the country and fired the hearts of his brothers. He has won his place through honesty, bravery and aggressiveness. He has given something to the nation that the nation needed, and with such men as Pinchback, Lynch, Terrell and others of like ilk, acting in concert, it is but a matter of time when his worth shall induce a repentant people, with a justice builded upon the foundation of its old prejudice, to ask the Negro back to take a hand in the affairs of state.

Add to all this the facts that the Negro has his representatives in the commercial world: McCoy and Granville T. Woods, inventors; in the agricultural world with J.H. Groves, the potato king of Kansas, who last year shipped from his own railway siding seventy-two thousand five hundred bushels of potatoes alone; in the military, with Capt. Charles A. Young, a West Pointer, now stationed at the Presidio; that in medicine, he possesses in Daniel H. Williams, of Chicago, one of the really great surgeons of the country; that Edward H. Morris, a black man, is one of the most brilliant lawyers at the brilliant Cook County bar; that in every walk of life he has men and women who stand for something definite and concrete, and it seems to me that there can be little doubt that the race problem will gradually solve itself.

I have spoken of "men and women," and indeed the women must not be forgotten, for to them the men look for much of the inspiration and impulse that drives them forward to success. Mrs. Mary Church Terrell upon the platform speaking for Negro womanhood and Miss Sarah Brown, her direct opposite, a little woman sitting up in her aerie above a noisy New York street, stand for the very best that there is in our mothers, wives and sisters. The one fully in the public eye, with learning and eloquence, telling the hopes and fears of her kind; the other in suffering and retirement, with her knowledge of the human heart and her gentleness inspiring all who meet her to better and nobler lives. They are both doing their work bravely and grandly. But when the unitiate ask who is "la Petite Reine," we think of the quiet little woman in a New York fifth floor back and are silent.

She is a patron of all our literature and art and we have both. Whether it is a new song by Will Marion Cook or a new book by DuBois or Chestnut, than whom no one has ever told the life of the Negro more accurately and convincingly, she knows it and has a kindly word of praise or encouragement.

In looking over the field for such an article as this, one just begins to realize how many Negroes are representative of something, and now it seems that in closing no better names could be chosen than those of the two Tanners.

From time immemorial, Religion and Art have gone together, but it remained for us to place them in the persons of these two men, in the relation of father and son. Bishop Benj. Tucker Tanner, of the A.M.E. Church, is not only a theologian and a priest, he is a dignified, polished man of the higher world and a poet. He has succeeded because he was prepared for success. As to his writings, he will, perhaps, think most highly of "His Apology For African Methodism;" but some of us, while respecting this, will turn from it to the poems and hymns that have sung themselves out of his gentle heart.

Is it any wonder that his son, Henry O. Tanner, is a poet with the brush or that the French Government has found it out? From the father must have come the man's artistic impulse, and he carried it on and on to a golden fruition. In the Luxembourg gallery hangs his picture, "The Raising of Lazarus." At the Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, I saw his "Annunciation," both a long way from his "Banjo Lesson," and thinking of him I began to wonder whether, in spite of all the industrial tumult, it were not in the field of art, music and literature that the Negro was to make his highest contribution to American civilization. But this is merely a question which time will answer.

All these of whom I have spoken are men who have striven and achieved and the reasons underlying their success are the same that account for the advancement of men of any other race: preparation, perseverance, bravery, patience, honesty and the power to seize the opportunity.

It is a little dark still, but there are warnings of the day and somewhere out of the darkness a bird is singing to the Dawn.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The African British Experience

British Born Jamaican, Delroy Constantine-Simms
penned this article for "The Black Commentator"
in the March 1, 2007 issue.
Here's some of what he said. Read more for further insight into the "Black British" experience.

The majority of Africans in the Diaspora still suffer a lack of knowledge of self and our past and as a result suffer from cultural disinheritance. Historically this has lead to the internalisation and feelings of an inferiority complex, which are a direct result of becoming caricatures and an inferior subset of the human race in the body of Western thought.

Nowhere else in the world does Black History include the celebration of other cultures’ history that is not of African (and Caribbean) Origin. The British approach to Black History Month may be seen as inclusive to many, but to me it effectively challenges and undermines the reason why Black History Month was initially conceived. This urbanisation of Black History Month represents the watering down and marginalisation of our history and significant contribution to British society post and pre the Windrush.

In the USA, Black means anybody that is of African heritage; usually referring to Africans, African-Americans, Caribbean and African South Americans and those who identify with the Black experience but may be of dual heritage. No one else! Blacks in Britain have to accept footnote politics in that the definition of Black has to be explained on most public documents aimed at the so called target group. It's laughable, but a fact of British politics. It's no wonder African-Americans don't take us seriously as a community. It's no wonder they are confused when the come to UK Black History events only to find that the History being discussed has nothing to do with the African Diaspora experience. It's easy to blame the local authorities and national government, and mainstream for this state of affairs. But in reality, misguided Black politicians of the late 1970's with strong socialist tendencies created a situation where Black political and socio-historical contributions to the United Kingdom have been marginalised, recast and re-labelled as an urban contribution to the delight of organisations and policy makers who have no interest in accepting the term Black, let alone the contribution of Blacks in the United Kingdom before the arrival of the Windrush and after!

Friday, October 1, 2010

"Culture Clash on the Front Line" Jamaicans in st Pauls, Bristol, England

Borja Cantera's documentary "CULTURE CLASH ON THE FRONT LINE" is the story of Jamaicans in Bristol.

Narrated by local poet Miles Chambers, "CULTURE CLASH ON THE FRONT LINE" covers the last six decades of what is now the second largest Jamaican community in the world outside Jamaica. Featuring key members of the St Pauls community "CULTURE CLASH ON THE FRONT LINE" is an emotive and intense story in which subsequent generations of Jamaican descendents go through a process of reconciliation with their past on which to build a positive future for themselves and the proud, colorful anomaly that is St Pauls.

This is the first time I see this Video. It's interesting how much it parallels my
experiences in North America. We really do need to understand that we are
not alone in our struggle to cast off the chains of racism. Every positive
thing each of us do is a step in the right direction for all.

1 of 16 Culture Clash on the Front Line

2 of 16 Culture Clash on the Front Line

3 of 16 "Culture Clash on the Front Line

4 of 16 "Culture Clash on the Front Line

Saturday, September 11, 2010


USAF Photo/ Denise Gould

Lots of stories and memorials will be out there about 9-11 today. 
All I have to say is we must come up with the questions before we recieve any answers.  
Who, What, Where, Why, How and When? Is a good place to start.

A few questions I have.

1. Since there were no survivors on the aircraft how  can we be certain of exactly how these alleged hijackings took place?

2. How did these buildings fall straight down like they do in the demolition newsreels?

3.  Why were the Saudi officials in the US permitted to leave the US so fast?

 4. What was the big rush to attack Iraq? They had nothing to do with the attack.

 5. If these planes were hijacked the way it is generally claimed, why would anyone feel so
    passionate about the particular targets, to be willing to sacrifice their lives?  
     Is there something we should know? 

 6. In the wake of 9-11, how many of those who have since died had anything (even remotely), to do with  the original or future attacks?

 7. Isn't the slaughter of tens of thousands of innocent people cause for concern?
     How do we take these lives without becoming terrorists ourselves?

Am I the only one with questions?
The answers we get will only be as good as the questions we ask.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Canada's Aid to Haiti?

                                                             photo     Charles Simmins  

Canada's Failed Aid to Haiti

Global Research, August 6, 2010
Haiti Liberte - 2010-08-05

The six month mark after Haiti's Jan. 12 earthquake saw a flurry of news reports in Canada and around the world. The depictions of the harsh conditions still prevailing for most earthquake victims took many people by surprise. The relative silence of the media over the last few months led many to assume that the international aid effort had accomplished much more than it has.

On the eve of July 12, contradictory or exaggerated claims were made about Canadian government aid to Haiti. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Canwest news agency reported that Canada has committed "more than $1 billion" for Haiti. Yet only days earlier, on July 9, the Quebec French-language daily Le Devoir, and the English-language Canadian Press news agency, reported that Canada has not given a dime to the Haiti Reconstruction Fund established by the March 31 United Nations Donor Conference in New York. So what is the true record of Canada's assistance to Haiti since the earthquake, and what more needs to be done to assist the hundreds of thousands of victims who have received little or no aid?

The Numbers

In a July 9 press release, written as a rebuttal to the aforementioned Le Devoir and Canadian Press reports, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon and Minister of International Cooperation and Development Bev Oda stated that Canada had contributed $150 million to Haiti in the weeks following the quake. The ministers also said an additional $400 million has been pledged to Haiti for the next two years.

At a subsequent July 12 press conference, the ministers upped the figure, saying that Canada has spent, or is committing, a total of $1.1 billion in aid to Haiti. But their time frame of commitment predates the earthquake considerably, covering the years 2006 to 2012.

Other figures are also misleading. The $150 million figure noted on Jul. 9 reflected spending announcements in January and April. The $400 million figure was announced by Canada at the March 31 UN Donors Conference. Media reports gave the impression that this $400 million is Canada's contribution to the Haiti Reconstruction Fund (HRF) established at the conference. In fact, Canada's contribution to the Fund is listed on the Fund's website as "$30-$45 million" [funds listed are in US dollars].

It so happens that $30 million is the minimum payment required to secure a seat on Fund's board of directors. The HRF's spending decisions are controlled by international financial institutions, the Fund's board of directors, and the Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission. The latter consists of 26 members, half of whom are non-Haitian. It is chaired by former U.S. president Bill Clinton and Haitian Prime Minister Max Bellerive.

Few of the countries pledging to the Fund are in a rush to pay up. According to the undated pledge page on the Fund's website, only three countries have met their pledges - Brazil, Australia and Estonia, for a total of US$64 million. Canada says it will pay up "soon." But Cannon and Oda voiced a reason for their delay at the July 12 press conference. They said they are concerned by Bill Clinton's remarks the preceding week in which he criticized laggard donor countries for their failure to pay.

Canada's $1.1 Billion

Below is a rough breakdown of the CAN$1.1 billion that Canada says it has spent, or is promising, in Haiti:

* $555 million for 2006-11.* Status: Most of this money predates the earthquake. It largely has funded police and prison institutions as well as massively boycotted 2009 elections.

* $400 million announced on March 31, 2010 and again on Jul. 12.* Status: Promised over the next two years.

* $150 million for short-term earthquake relief. * Status: Given to UN agencies and NGO's, difficult to confirm how much was spent, and where.

* $30-45 million to the Haiti Reconstruction Fund. * Status: Yet to be paid.

* $40 million for debt cancellation.* Status: Much of this dates from the years of the Duvalier dictatorship. It is owed to international financial institutions and is not "earthquake relief."

* Sums spent on Canadian military and police agencies in Haiti. * Status: Amounts unknown and unreported.

Additionally, the Canadian federal government has said it will match $220 million of the donations that individual Canadians gave to charities between Jan. 12 and Feb. 16. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) said in New York on Mar. 31 that half of the $220 million, that is, $110 million, is included in the $400 million announcement. The other half, Minister Oda said on July 12, would go to "the continuing work of humanitarian development [non-governmental organizations] and institutions in their efforts." In other words, it is not new money at all.