September 19, 2012

A community remembered

Children of Africville
by Christine Welldon

Canadian Black history would not be complete without mentioning Africville, Nova Scotia. Founded in 1848 by black settlers, Africville grew into a caring, thriving community despite years of government neglect, prejudice, and racism. In clear, bittersweet prose, the children of Africville, now grown, look back and remember a seemingly idyllic time before their community was ruthlessly destroyed.

Last Days in Africville, by Dorothy Perkyns, is a fictional account of Africville's final days as seen through the eyes of twelve-year-old Selina Palmer. Selina's struggles with bullying and racism are tempered by the love and inclusiveness of her vibrant community. Read along with Children of Africville, it provides a clear idea of what living in Africville was really like. Both books will also have children wondering what would have happened if the people of Africville had fought harder for their community's survival. Their helplessness and fatalism is both frustrating and sorrowful.

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