BLACK IN TORONTO: Kay Livingstone gets national recognition

Opinion Sep 26, 2017 by Rosemary Sadlier City Centre Mirror

The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada represented by chair Dr. Richard Alway, MP Marco Mendicino and a number of distinguished guests attended the unveiling of a plaque honouring Kay Livingstone in Toronto on Sunday, Sept. 24.

Born to an African-American father who was from Georgia and an African-Canadian mother who had long roots in the Cayuga then Chatham area before she moved to central Ontario, Kay was a native of London, Ont. Kay grew up in an activist household, since her parents worked on both a newspaper (the Dawn of Tomorrow, founded in 1923) and an organization (Canadian League for the Advancement of Coloured People in 1924). She would have grown up knowing about W.E.B. DuBois and Carter G. Woodson, the founder of Negro History Week, and about the wide range of contributions made by Africans globally, including in Canada.

When her father died suddenly in 1931, Kay’s mother recruited all of her seven children to keep the paper going. This experience opened up the world and the value of the performing arts, which Kay pursued in school, taking her to Ottawa to study there. During the Second World War, Kay worked for the Dominion Bureau of Statistics, met a man from Antigua and married him. She soon began a radio show called the Kay Livingstone Show and brought that, along with motherhood, to Toronto, where she moved.

The reason that I nominated Kay Livingstone for national historic recognition is due to the fact that she initiated so many cultural aspects of Canadian life and because she inspired so many women to take on leadership roles. Through her efforts to reframe an organization called the Dilettantes into a more socially-aware organization renamed the Canadian Negro Women’s Association (CANEWA), students "with promise" were provided with scholarships, and to fund the scholarships, something called the Calypso Carnival was launched. This was the precursor to Caribana, now in its 50th year. Kay also animated the women of CANEWA and it was they who went on to become the foundational board members and volunteers of the Ontario Black History Society. It was under her influence that the first celebration of Negro History Week took place in Toronto in the 1950s.

On a wider note, Kay was successful in pulling together the first National Congress of Black Women. Held at the Westbury Hotel in Toronto, the culmination of 18 months of planning, it brought together 200 Black women from coast to coast and organizational representation from the Coloured Women’s Club (Montreal), the Negro Women’s Professional Club (Halifax), the Grand Order of the Eastern Star (Toronto) and many others to focus on “a serious consideration of the issues vital to the Black community.”

After several subsequent conferences, the Congress of Black Women was created with national chapters.

For me, her impact on women like Aileen Williams, Penny Hodge, Phyllis Brooks and others who were there to mentor me in the ways of public service was the most meaningful contribution. While they are not here to enjoy and celebrate this milestone, the national designation of Kay Livingstone is important to all, given what she accomplished in her short life and what she inspired in others. She had next hoped to organize a national conference of visible minority women but sadly passed away before realizing that dream. We can also credit her for coining that phrase "visible minority" and wonder how she might look at Canadian society now that the visible minority is soon to be the majority.

The plaque, while unveiled to the delight of her descendants, women of the Congress of Black women and others, will be permanently installed in Bedford Park in the coming weeks, close to where she once resided. She was Black in Toronto with a national impact.

Rosemary Sadlier, Order of Ontario, is the past-president of the Ontario Black History Society. She is the author of six highly acclaimed books on Black history and has presented across Canada, the U.S. and the Caribbean. She is a Robert F. Kennedy Center "global defender for Human Rights." She can be reached for speaking engagements or other professional opportunities at rswrites2@gmail.com.




BLACK IN TORONTO: Kay Livingstone gets national recognition

Opinion Sep 26, 2017 by Rosemary Sadlier City Centre Mirror

The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada represented by chair Dr. Richard Alway, MP Marco Mendicino and a number of distinguished guests attended the unveiling of a plaque honouring Kay Livingstone in Toronto on Sunday, Sept. 24.

Born to an African-American father who was from Georgia and an African-Canadian mother who had long roots in the Cayuga then Chatham area before she moved to central Ontario, Kay was a native of London, Ont. Kay grew up in an activist household, since her parents worked on both a newspaper (the Dawn of Tomorrow, founded in 1923) and an organization (Canadian League for the Advancement of Coloured People in 1924). She would have grown up knowing about W.E.B. DuBois and Carter G. Woodson, the founder of Negro History Week, and about the wide range of contributions made by Africans globally, including in Canada.

When her father died suddenly in 1931, Kay’s mother recruited all of her seven children to keep the paper going. This experience opened up the world and the value of the performing arts, which Kay pursued in school, taking her to Ottawa to study there. During the Second World War, Kay worked for the Dominion Bureau of Statistics, met a man from Antigua and married him. She soon began a radio show called the Kay Livingstone Show and brought that, along with motherhood, to Toronto, where she moved.

The reason that I nominated Kay Livingstone for national historic recognition is due to the fact that she initiated so many cultural aspects of Canadian life and because she inspired so many women to take on leadership roles. Through her efforts to reframe an organization called the Dilettantes into a more socially-aware organization renamed the Canadian Negro Women’s Association (CANEWA), students "with promise" were provided with scholarships, and to fund the scholarships, something called the Calypso Carnival was launched. This was the precursor to Caribana, now in its 50th year. Kay also animated the women of CANEWA and it was they who went on to become the foundational board members and volunteers of the Ontario Black History Society. It was under her influence that the first celebration of Negro History Week took place in Toronto in the 1950s.

On a wider note, Kay was successful in pulling together the first National Congress of Black Women. Held at the Westbury Hotel in Toronto, the culmination of 18 months of planning, it brought together 200 Black women from coast to coast and organizational representation from the Coloured Women’s Club (Montreal), the Negro Women’s Professional Club (Halifax), the Grand Order of the Eastern Star (Toronto) and many others to focus on “a serious consideration of the issues vital to the Black community.”

After several subsequent conferences, the Congress of Black Women was created with national chapters.

For me, her impact on women like Aileen Williams, Penny Hodge, Phyllis Brooks and others who were there to mentor me in the ways of public service was the most meaningful contribution. While they are not here to enjoy and celebrate this milestone, the national designation of Kay Livingstone is important to all, given what she accomplished in her short life and what she inspired in others. She had next hoped to organize a national conference of visible minority women but sadly passed away before realizing that dream. We can also credit her for coining that phrase "visible minority" and wonder how she might look at Canadian society now that the visible minority is soon to be the majority.

The plaque, while unveiled to the delight of her descendants, women of the Congress of Black women and others, will be permanently installed in Bedford Park in the coming weeks, close to where she once resided. She was Black in Toronto with a national impact.

Rosemary Sadlier, Order of Ontario, is the past-president of the Ontario Black History Society. She is the author of six highly acclaimed books on Black history and has presented across Canada, the U.S. and the Caribbean. She is a Robert F. Kennedy Center "global defender for Human Rights." She can be reached for speaking engagements or other professional opportunities at rswrites2@gmail.com.




BLACK IN TORONTO: Kay Livingstone gets national recognition

Opinion Sep 26, 2017 by Rosemary Sadlier City Centre Mirror

The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada represented by chair Dr. Richard Alway, MP Marco Mendicino and a number of distinguished guests attended the unveiling of a plaque honouring Kay Livingstone in Toronto on Sunday, Sept. 24.

Born to an African-American father who was from Georgia and an African-Canadian mother who had long roots in the Cayuga then Chatham area before she moved to central Ontario, Kay was a native of London, Ont. Kay grew up in an activist household, since her parents worked on both a newspaper (the Dawn of Tomorrow, founded in 1923) and an organization (Canadian League for the Advancement of Coloured People in 1924). She would have grown up knowing about W.E.B. DuBois and Carter G. Woodson, the founder of Negro History Week, and about the wide range of contributions made by Africans globally, including in Canada.

When her father died suddenly in 1931, Kay’s mother recruited all of her seven children to keep the paper going. This experience opened up the world and the value of the performing arts, which Kay pursued in school, taking her to Ottawa to study there. During the Second World War, Kay worked for the Dominion Bureau of Statistics, met a man from Antigua and married him. She soon began a radio show called the Kay Livingstone Show and brought that, along with motherhood, to Toronto, where she moved.

The reason that I nominated Kay Livingstone for national historic recognition is due to the fact that she initiated so many cultural aspects of Canadian life and because she inspired so many women to take on leadership roles. Through her efforts to reframe an organization called the Dilettantes into a more socially-aware organization renamed the Canadian Negro Women’s Association (CANEWA), students "with promise" were provided with scholarships, and to fund the scholarships, something called the Calypso Carnival was launched. This was the precursor to Caribana, now in its 50th year. Kay also animated the women of CANEWA and it was they who went on to become the foundational board members and volunteers of the Ontario Black History Society. It was under her influence that the first celebration of Negro History Week took place in Toronto in the 1950s.

On a wider note, Kay was successful in pulling together the first National Congress of Black Women. Held at the Westbury Hotel in Toronto, the culmination of 18 months of planning, it brought together 200 Black women from coast to coast and organizational representation from the Coloured Women’s Club (Montreal), the Negro Women’s Professional Club (Halifax), the Grand Order of the Eastern Star (Toronto) and many others to focus on “a serious consideration of the issues vital to the Black community.”

After several subsequent conferences, the Congress of Black Women was created with national chapters.

For me, her impact on women like Aileen Williams, Penny Hodge, Phyllis Brooks and others who were there to mentor me in the ways of public service was the most meaningful contribution. While they are not here to enjoy and celebrate this milestone, the national designation of Kay Livingstone is important to all, given what she accomplished in her short life and what she inspired in others. She had next hoped to organize a national conference of visible minority women but sadly passed away before realizing that dream. We can also credit her for coining that phrase "visible minority" and wonder how she might look at Canadian society now that the visible minority is soon to be the majority.

The plaque, while unveiled to the delight of her descendants, women of the Congress of Black women and others, will be permanently installed in Bedford Park in the coming weeks, close to where she once resided. She was Black in Toronto with a national impact.

Rosemary Sadlier, Order of Ontario, is the past-president of the Ontario Black History Society. She is the author of six highly acclaimed books on Black history and has presented across Canada, the U.S. and the Caribbean. She is a Robert F. Kennedy Center "global defender for Human Rights." She can be reached for speaking engagements or other professional opportunities at rswrites2@gmail.com.