Several council members from the City of Brantford, and members of Unite Against Hate! gathered in Harmony Square for the raising of the Pan-African flag on Tuesday, February 7, 2023.
The flag-raising was held to honour and celebrate Black History Month, while recognizing Brantford’s own Black community and rich history.
Brantford Mayor Kevin Davis, councillors Michael Sullivan, Richard Carpenter and Mandy Samwell stood alongside Amanda Mersereau, Co-founder and Director of Unite Against Hate! (UAH) as Mayor Davis addressed those in attendance.
Mayor Davis spoke of the early freedom-seekers coming to Brantford, and mentioned the SR Drake Memorial Church that still stands today.
Afterwards, Mersereau took the time to discuss the significance behind the Pan-African flag before herself and Mayor Davis began to raise the flag.
“The Pan-African flag is a representation of freedom for the Black community,” she said. “It was created in the early 20th century in a response to racism. The flag is a reminder that despite the steps we are taking forwards, we still have many steps to take on our journey to an equitable, safe and just Brantford for all.”
According to the City of Brantford’s website, some early Black History in the city dates to 1754 and people of African descent have been a fundamental part of Brantford’s history since at least 1858. Many historical sites can be seen around town to this day.
“Brantford has a rich Black History to it, a lot of early freedom-seekers ended up settling in Brantford,” said Mersereau. “There are ties to the Underground Railroad and the church that Mayor Davis was speaking about is now known as the SR Drake Memorial Church (on Murray Street) and it is actually the second building as the original building succumbed to fire, but this one is still a couple hundred-years old and it’s still standing.”
UAH is a social justice, social profit, anti-racism organization that is Brantford based. It’s focused on educating Brantford on Black History, supporting Black-owned businesses, networking and has even developed two educational modules that are free PDF downloads.
The organization recognizes that the key steps to sustainable change is through education, and it encourages Brantford residents to educate themselves on the illuminating Black History of the area.
To continue to celebrate and acknowledge Black History Month, there are several events going on in the city that celebrate its Black community and its history.