Monday, 13 February 2017

A successful book launch at the Harbourfront Centre and more during Black History Month

By Neil Armstrong

The launch of B. Denham Jolly’s memoir, “In the Black: My Life,” was an overwhelming success on Feb. 11.

Miss Lou’s Room at the Harbourfront Centre overflowed with supporters who came to hear from him about his new book and to buy copies.

Included among them were: Wayne Williams, former program director of Flow 93.5; veteran journalist Norman ‘Otis’ Richmond; former deputy speaker of the Canadian House of Commons Jean Augustine; Gordon Cressy, president of the George Brown College Foundation; members of the Jamaican Canadian Association, and many more.

Published by ECW Press, “In the Black” is the story of B. Denham Jolly, an award- winning business leader and active proponent of civil rights for Black Canadians.

The promotional material for the book notes that Jolly arrived in Toronto from Jamaica to attend university in the mid-1950s, and despite numerous encounters [with] discrimination, he became a successful business owner and publisher.

“His work with Contrast newspaper contributed significantly to the Black community and cultural landscape of Toronto’s Bathurst Street. The need for a stronger voice for the Black community fuelled Jolly’s 12-year battle to get a licence for FLOW 93.5, a Black-owned radio station in Toronto. At its launch in 2001, Flow 93.5 became the model for urban music stations across the country, helping to launch the careers of artists like Drake, Shad, and Jully Black.”

In the Black is more than a story of one man’s endless resilience and personal ambition; it is also the story of a community overcoming hardships and reshaping the country into a more open and just society.

It was my honour to be the emcee of this event, a partnership of A Different Booklist and the Harbourfront Centre. There were remarks from Pamela Appelt, patron of Miss Lou’s Room; Miguel San Vicente of A Different Booklist; and Jack David, publisher of ECW Press. I interviewed Denham and he took questions from the audience. It was a fun night.

When I got to the Harbourfront Centre, I ran into award-winning journalist and activist, Desmond Cole, who had just finished moderating the second of two panels. The first was entitled: “Beyond Policing: Alternatives for Supporting Black People in Crisis; the other was “The Art of Storytelling: Black Art and Artists in Toronto.”

Desmond is writing a new book and so I requested a face-to-face interview with him about it. Look out for that after this busy month of February.

Last week, I interviewed Chicago playwright, Reginald Edmund, who is bringing his “Black Lives, Black Words” international project to Toronto to have its Canadian premiere at the 38th annual Rhubarb festival at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. I also spoke to local playwrights, Kanika Ambrose and Jordan Laffrenier, who are among seven artists responding to the prompt – “Do Black Lives Matter today?” The story will be published in the North American Weekly Gleaner soon.

B. Denham Jolly signing a copy of his memoir, 'In the Black,' for Wayne Williams, former program director of Flow 93.5 FM inside Miss Lou's Room at the Harbourfront Centre on Feb. 11, 2017.

Malcolm Sinclair, Miguel San Vicente and Sojourner San Vicente of A Different Booklist at the launch of B. Denham Jolly's memoir, 'In the Black,' in Miss Lou's Room at the Harbourfront Centre.

Book launch and signing in Miss Lou's Room at the Harbourfront Centre on Feb. 11, 2017
Inside Miss Lou's Room at the book launch of B. Denham Jolly's memoir, 'In the Black.'


South Africa’s Ladysmith Black Mambazo performs at The Royal Conservatory of Music, Koerner Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 8pm. 416-408-0208

The 5th annual Toronto Black Film Festival (TBFF) will be held Feb. 15-19.

Black Ontario Public Service Employees Network (BOPSers) presents a discussion, "Internalized Racism - how to recognize it?" on Thursday, Feb. 16, 5:00-7:30 p.m. at 900 Bay St., 2nd Floor, Kawartha Room. Facilitator: Cikiah Thomas, BOPSers founder. RSVP:

Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention presents its Black History Month 2017 event under the theme "Diversity is our Strength" on Thursday, Feb. 16, 5-8pm at 20 Victoria St., 4th Floor, Toronto. Call 416-977-9955,,

Black History Month at the Toronto Public Library. “Never Stop Fighting Systemic Discrimination” – Beverley “Bev” Salmon shares her poignant story of growing up in north Toronto, of becoming Toronto’s first Black female councillor, and taking on the Wynne government to end racial profiling. This will be held on Thursday, Feb. 16, 1-3pm at Downsview library.

Showing of ‘The Ninth Floor’ at Riverdale library on Feb. 16, 6:30-8:15pm. From the National Film Board of Canada comes a film on the Sir George Williams affair and Canadian race relations 40 years later. Written and directed by Mina Shum.

Black History Month Symposium - "The Evolving Meaning of Blackness in Canada. history. education. justice." Keynote presenters: Anthony Stewart,
Kiké Roach, Rinaldo Walcott and Barrington Walker on Friday, Feb. 17 and Saturday, Feb. 18 at Founders Assembly Hall (Room 152 Founders College), York University (Keele Campus). Register online and view the program at

Peel United Cultural Partners (Congress of Black Women – Brampton Chapter and the United Achievers’ Club) presents its 16th annual Black History Month Concert at Lester B. Pearson Theatre, Brampton Civic Centre, 150 Central Park Drive, Brampton on Saturday, Feb. 18, 5:00pm-8:30pm. Guest speaker: Farley Flex, motivational speaker, artist manager and music promoter. Tickets: $6, children 3 and under free. Call 905-789-1551/905-796-1916

Jamaica Ex-Soldiers Association presents its 12th annual Black History Month Celebration – “Celebrating our Men & Challenging the Myth of Black Fatherhood” – on Saturday, Feb. 18, expo 5pm-6pm, formal program at 6pm at Northwood Community Centre, 15 Clubhouse Court, Toronto. Call 647-234-7957/416-525-2346

TD presents “Tribute to the Legends of Reggae” paying tribute to Bob Marley, Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs and Culture on Tuesday, Feb. 21, doors open at 7pm, show time at 8pm at the Rose Theatre, 1 Theatre Lane, Brampton and on Saturday, Feb. 25, 8pm (doors open); show starts at 9pm at The Opera House, 735 Queen St. East, Toronto. Live performances by: Ken Boothe, Exco Levi and High Priest, Nana McLean, Chester Miller, Mr. Cooper, Hardcore Band. Music provided by DJ Joshua Luca.
Tickets: $25 advance, $30 at the door. VIP Tickets: $50 advance, $55 at the door
Info: Jones & Jones: 905-452-1911

BOPSers main celebratory event - "Can we afford to remain silent on Anti-Black Racism?" - will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 12:30-1:20 p.m. at St. Lawrence Lounge, 900 Bay St., MacDonald Block. Special guest: Steve Orsini, Secretary of the Cabinet. Keynote speaker: Desmond Cole, author and activist. RSVP: 
Black History Month Eh List Authors at Toronto Public Library -- “Caribbean Voices” on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 7-8pm at Maria A. Shchuka library featuring Dalton Higgins, Stacey Marie Robinson, Joshua “Scribe” Watkis and Leonicka Valcius.

Anne-Marie Woods aka Amani has a new youth production, "The Three Friends," that takes a look at African Canadian history and race relations.
It explores the question – What would happen to friendship or relationships if they weren’t always acceptable? Written, directed and starring award-winning playwright and activist, Anne-Marie Woods aka Amani, alongside up-and-coming youth actors -- Antonio Parsons, Sheree Spencer and Kaia Richardson.

Synopsis: A BlackLivesMatter protest took place on the Jean Augustine University campus and three friends; one African Canadian, one African American and one of European descent have all ended up in a boardroom to deal with the feelings caused by the protest. As temperatures rise and the discussion heats up they soon learn that back, white, American or Canadian, we all have more in common than you might think. From the Transatlantic Slave Trade to the Civil Rights Movement to the present day political climate … history, fiction and fantasy will unite to tell the story of Black History In Canada in an exciting and unique way. “The Three Friends” was created because of a request by Ebenezer Inkumsah who officiates the Black History Month Events in Barrie, Ontario. 

A private showcase will take place on Feb. 24, and a public one at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts on Feb. 22 – both in Barrie, Ontario.

Black Lives, Black Words at the 38th Rhubarb Festival at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre,, on Feb. 24 & 25, 10:00 p.m. in the chamber.
Local black playwrights write 10-minute plays responding to the theme "Do Black Lives Matter today?" The project that has explored the Black diaspora experience in Chicago, Minneapolis, and London, UK, get its first Toronto iteration, in partnership with Rhubarb, Obsidian Theatre Company, and the National Arts Centre.
The project creator is Reginald Edmund and the local playwrights are Kanika Ambrose, Leelee Davis, Jordan Laffrenier, Tawiah M'Carthy & Motion.

2nd annual Black Diamond Ball presented by TD & ArtXperiential will be held on Feb. 25 at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto featuring: Divine Brown, Glenn Lewis, Michie Mee and Simone Denny. Host: Patricia Jaggernauth

BAIE 2017 Black Arts & Innovation Expo

Excelovate and First Book Canada have partnered with leading corporations, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, artist and innovators to deliver an event that promotes diversity and inspires excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM).

This event defines a new way of celebrating Black History Month with focused attention placed on the remarkable achievements of tomorrow’s legends. Meet this outstanding group of new leaders and experience their valuable contributions to music, literature, visual arts, entrepreneurship and technology.
BAIE 2017 takes place on February 25, 2:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. at the York Mills Gallery, 1885 Leslie St., Toronto.

Celebrating Excellence. Reverend John C. Holland Awards and Gala on Saturday, Feb. 25, doors open at 5:30p.m., dinner at 6:30p.m. at Grand Central Ballroom, Liuna Station, 360 James St. North, Hamilton. For more information, call Louise 905-865-1027/Marlene 905-921-9646

African Canadian Achievement Awards will be held on Saturday, Feb. 25, 7pm at the Jane Mallet Theatre, St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, 27 Front Street East, Toronto. Tickets: $45 adults, $25 for students 18 years and under. Call 905-668-8869

In celebration of Black History Month, the Faculty of Social Science and Humanities and Faculty of Education of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology present George Elliott Clarke, Canada’s Parliamentary Poet Laureate on Monday, Feb. 27, reception: 6-7pm, lecture: 7-9pm at Regent Theatre, 50 King St. East, Oshawa. RSVP and information:

Lululemon's The Local Toronto + Young Black Canucks will hold a wrap-up of Black History Month celebration on Sunday, Feb. 26 at The Local Toronto, 96 Ossington Ave., Toronto. Doors open at 4pm, 5-6pm panel, 6-7:30pm social.

"Empowering our Community: Politicizing our Struggles" -- African Heritage and Black History Month by the CBTU, OFL and CLC
Learn about the history of the Black Sleeping Car Porters, the double legacy of racism and sexism facing Black women in politics and
the story of Viola Desmond and other brave anti-racist activists who refused to accept inequality. Three films will be screened recounting these struggles following by a discussion on the current struggles facing our community with the objective of developing strategies to makes our voices heard through political action. The films will be shown at the same time so choose the film that speaks to you.

Then add your voice in a community-based discussion to help shape the political action work of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Ontario Federation of Labour and Canadian Labour Congress. By working in solidarity with Black and racialized workers across Canada we will continue the legacy of our ancestors to challenge anti-black racism in our times. 
Monday, Feb. 27, 6:00 p.m.-8:30 p.m. at United Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil St., Toronto. A free event.  

culchahworks Arts Collective presents"Belafonte at 90" a tribute celebration on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 8pm at Fleck Dance Theatre, Harbourfront Centre. Culchaworks honours the artist, activist, and icon on his milestone birthday, with an electrifying presentaton of words, dance, theatre, images, and music. Written, directed and produced by Andrew Craig. Choreographed by Melissa Noventa. $55 tickets available through Harbourfront Centre Box Office, 416-973-4000, or


1 comment:

  1. This sounds like a book I’d like to read. A friend of mine said I should read it and I thought I should first check it out. He is also a poet and I met him in one of the San Francisco event venues where he was performing. He said that he really liked your book.