The real hallowed ground

On Wednesday, the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of being on hallowed ground as the U.S. commemorated the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington.

Bernice King gave an impassioned speech, much like one her father gave before her, but I couldn’t help but think of another human rights activist, Maya Angelou, and her use of the word hallowed.

In an interview I had with her before she spoke at Western University in 2011, the renowned Angelou called  Canada “hallowed” ground.

“Canada has the distinct position of having been a haven. (The slaves) wrote about Canada by calling it Canaan. I’m going to cross over into Canaan land,” Angelou said before arriving in Canada for her speech.

While the U.S. uses pomp and circumstance to confidently espouse it’s belief in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, here in Canada we’ve quietly done the right thing long before the U.S. even considered it.

Canada is the true hallowed ground and Maya Angelou knew it and respected it.

Should we be celebrating out loud all that our forefathers and foremothers did? Or continue to quietly go about our business as the best nation on earth.

Here’s my interview with Angelou.


2 thoughts on “The real hallowed ground

  1. Not too keen on claiming we run the best nation in the world…not a competition, a mindset that can lead
    to wars. The USA tends to think like rebels, whereas our background was Loyalist, and gradually untying
    the Imperial apron strings by negotiation.
    It’s lovely to hear Canada noted for its contribution to solving the problem of slavery, instead of the negative
    black history incidents some relish.
    Remembering not all our fore-parents were living here back then, we all need to become familiar with the
    evolution of our disentangling our country from the practice of slavery as practiced in the British Empire.
    The signal moment seems to be some months after the “Founding of London”, with the first Lt. Governor
    of the new province of Upper Canada’s Proclamation dealing with the issue.
    – Historica-Dominion Institute site says “19 June 1793: Simcoe’s Anti-Slave Trade Bill
    When Simcoe left England to take up his appointment as the first lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada,
    he pledged never to support discriminatory laws. On 19 June 1793, Attorney General White introduced Simcoe’s
    nti-slavery measure and it passed, although it was not a total ban on slavery but a gradual prohibition… [more]

    The trans-Atlantic trade is one aspect, the use of workers already brought over is another.
    Wasn’t much of the southern US economy dependent on this cheap labour, whereas they weren’t familiar with the kinds of work that opened up our wilderness.
    Glad you brought this up Kathy. The speech was not not such a hot topic up here as we recall those days- wonder
    how local media handled it.

  2. Interesting browsing the history of slavery, particularly of non-white people in Africa.
    Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order issued by President Lincoln in 1963, January 1,
    The MLK speech was about civil rights achieved since that event and made exactly a century later.
    Making it 150 years since the USA made holding slaves illegal. Not sure if American businessmen
    transported them, or just used their labour. We are lucky our country dealt with it early.

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