Exhibition | Celebrating Black History Month


McLennan Library Building Rare Books and Special Collections Reading Room, 4th floor, 3459 rue McTavish, Montreal, QC, H3A 0C9, CA

This exhibit celebrates Black History Month and highlights some of the archival and special collections housed at the McGill University Archives and Rare Books and Special Collections.

The exhibit encompasses four main themes:


Social responsibility and activism

Arts and culture

Military history

Curriculum has evolved over nearly five decades at McGill University. Hutton Archer, president of the Students’ Society, wrote about the need for a research centre devoted to the teaching and awareness of African-Canadian history and culture. Today, internationally renowned professors such as Dr. Charmaine Nelson, have utilized archival materials to shed new light on slavery studies and publish an exhibition catalogue on art from the transatlantic slave trade.

Social Responsibility and activism continued to be significant from the 1960’s to the late 1980’s. Rosemary Brown (BA McGill University), born in Jamaica, was the first Black woman to serve as an MP. She won her seat as an NDP Member of Parliament for a riding in British Columbia. In 1990, she visited McGill during Black History Month, and spoke in a lecture to students, faculty, and staff. In the 1980’s, students began to demonstrate for more socially responsible funding. As a result, the Board of Governors divested its investments from companies that supported apartheid, as captured in these images.

The McGill Daily, the student campus newspaper, covered Miriam Makeba, a South African folksinger whose career flourished in the United States, on its front page. Due to apartheid, Makeba could not perform in the arts as a singer and an actress. She left South Africa to pursue her career in the United States where she also got involved in the African-American civil rights movement. Local Montrealer, Oscar Peterson became a renowned performer who won eight Grammys as well as being awarded the Order of Canada and the National Order of Quebec.