Audio

Narrator: The audio segments you are about to hear have been selected to accompany the exhibit “…and still I rise,” a joint project of the African Canadian Workers Advisory Committee and the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre. “…and still I rise” tells the story of African Canadian workers in Ontario from 1900 to the present.

These audio selections consist of music, interviews with noted African Canadians, some storytelling and dub poetry, and you will even hear a rare vaudeville skit that was recorded in 1925. These selections should enhance your understanding of the exhibit and enrich your experience of what you see.

Workers Arts and Heritage Centre

© 2007 Workers Arts and Heritage Centre - All Rights Reserved


Audio

Hattie Rhue Hatchett

© Hattie Rhue Hatchett


Audio

Narrator:  You have been listening to the composition “That Sacred Spot,” a hymn that was chosen by the Canadian military as the official marching song of the troops during WWI. The person who wrote the words and music in 1915 was Hattie Rhue Hatchett.

Hattie Rhue Hatchett was born in North Buxton, Ontario in 1863. She became a school teacher and a talented pianist and composer, being one of the first in Kent County to receive a certificate in music. However, she would not be hired by the schools, and instead used her talents as an organist, choir leader, Sunday School teacher and president of the Missionary Society in North Buxton.

Mrs. Hatchett wrote religious songs and hymns, but her composition ‘That Sacred Spot’ had a lively beat like a marching song, and it spoke to the sacrifice paid by the soldiers in the war.

[song in background]
In all your merriment, in all your joys
Pray, don’t forget about the soldier boys
And nurses, too, who gave their lives
In cruel war with all its horrid strife….

Words and music by Hattie Rhue Hatchett (1863-1958)

Workers Arts and Heritage Centre

© 2007 Workers Arts and Heritage Centre - All Rights Reserved


Audio

Narrator: The selection of Hattie Rhue Hatchett’s music was a rare honour given by the military to an African Canadian woman. Unfortunately, in most aspects of life, Black people were not treated on an equal basis with white Canadians. The early decades of the 20th century were a time when many employers and industries were not open to hiring Blacks. Ray Lewis, one of the first Black Canadians to go to the Olympics in 1932, explained what happened when he tried to get a job in Hamilton. Although well-known as a talented sprinter, when he approached one influential person at the Hamilton Spectator for work, he was told there was nothing for him. When this person then asked him when he would start training for the 1930 British Empire Games, Ray Lewis decided to boycott the Games. As he put it, ‘no job, no running.’

Workers Arts and Heritage Centre

© 2007 Workers Arts and Heritage Centre - All Rights Reserved


Audio

Ray Lewis: The first British Empire Games were then coming up here in Hamilton – they were around here – the first – and I didn’t even try for the team, and I’m sure I would have made it. Because two years later, I made the Olympic team and come home with a medal. So I’m sure I would have made that first team. Of course, I was angry, and I just did not run. I’ll give you an example. I served Paul Robeson on the train. I served him some tea, he and his accompanist.

I said, “I would like to congratulate you.” 
He said, “What for young man?”
“The fact that you were put on the professional football team.”
“Oh, thank you very much. Did you play ball?”
I said, “No, but I used to be in track and field.”
“Oh that’s good. What did you do there?”
 I ran in the Olympic Games, and I won a bronze medal.”
“Well, what are you doing on here?”
Interviewer: “…meaning, what are you doing working on the Railroad?”
I said, “This is all they’ll let me do. I don’t have a college graduation, and this is the only job I could get.” And he was just lost for words. We had quite a chat.

Workers Arts and Heritage Centre

© 2007 Workers Arts and Heritage Centre - All Rights Reserved


Audio

Narrator: Lewis did get a job as a railway porter for the Canadian Pacific Railway. As a porter, Mr. Lewis sometimes received humiliating treatment, like the time he was called ‘boy’ although he was a grown man. This was a typical way that some whites demeaned Black men.

Workers Arts and Heritage Centre

© 2007 Workers Arts and Heritage Centre - All Rights Reserved


Audio

Ray Lewis, Part 2: I remember a man said, “Boy, boy...” He called me “Boy” about a dozen times, and I ignored him. Then he said, “Porter...” and I said, “Oh, were you calling me?” and I smiled right in his face. He took a ginger ale and left, and he was on the train three days later and never spoke to me anymore. You had to be careful, but it was an education. It was an education – railroading – you met them all!

Workers Arts and Heritage Centre

© 2007 Workers Arts and Heritage Centre - All Rights Reserved


Audio

Narrator: But there was one area in which Mr. Lewis knew he could not be held back and that was as a sprinter. He went to the Olympics in 1932 in Los Angeles and won a bronze medal in the 4x100 relay race. He also won a silver in 1934 at the British Empire Games, which are now called the Commonwealth Games. The Canadian track and field establishment knew that if they wanted to win, they’d have to send Lewis.

Workers Arts and Heritage Centre

© 2007 Workers Arts and Heritage Centre - All Rights Reserved


Audio

Ray Lewis, Part 3: I had to train wherever I could run, and I trained out on the Prairies when I was on freight trains ‘deadheading’ across the country. And every time the train stopped any length of time, I was out jogging beside the train. I guess those who saw me wondered, ‘What the hell is he doing?’ but I had a trunk full of medals. People would ask me, “What are you running like that for?” “Oh, I just like to run.” But they didn’t know I had a hundred odd medals in my trunk at home.

Workers Arts and Heritage Centre

© 2007 Workers Arts and Heritage Centre - All Rights Reserved


Audio

Narrator: Ray Lewis, world-class sprinter and Olympic medal winner achieved perhaps his greatest honour when he received the Order of Canada in 2001. He died nine months after giving this interview, at the age of 93. He will be missed by all who knew him. Fortunately, Mr. Lewis left his memoirs for us in two books, Shadow Running and Rapid Ray, both written by John Cooper. In them he talked about his life growing up in Hamilton and about his running career. They are an inspiration to anyone who has to overcome obstacles to reach a goal.

Workers Arts and Heritage Centre

© 2007 Workers Arts and Heritage Centre - All Rights Reserved


Audio

Lou Hooper

© Lou Hooper


Audio

Narrator: One of the ways that African Canadians could achieve success was in the entertainment industry. Many were drawn by the bright lights of Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. Lou Hooper, the composer and pianist of ‘Cakewalk,’ the number you just heard, was born in North Buxton, Ontario in 1894. He was one of the talented musicians who was in New York during the famous era known as the Harlem Renaissance. He played the piano for the leading Black artists of the day, including Bessie Smith, Paul Robeson and Ethel Waters. Hooper later returned to Canada and formed part of the swing band led by Myron Sutton known as the Canadian Ambassadors. Hooper, who had obtained a Bachelor’s degree in music from the Detroit Conservatory of Music, had a distinguished career as a music teacher, composer, accompanist, band member and concert director.

‘Cakewalk,’ which he wrote many years earlier, was recorded in 1973 and is a Radio Canada International production. It is an example of the music known as ragtime, a precursor of jazz, but not considered to be jazz itself.

Workers Arts and Heritage Centre

© 2007 Workers Arts and Heritage Centre - All Rights Reserved


Audio

Narrator: Another talented composer and musician who headed south for fame and fortune was Shelton Brooks. Shelton Brooks was born in Amherstburg, Ontario in 1886 and in the early years of the new century, moved to Detroit, where he became a professional pianist and vaudeville entertainer. In 1923, he toured Europe where he played musical shows and vaudeville. He even played a command performance for King George V and Queen Mary of England, where he entertained them with his best-known compositions, “The Dark Town Strutter’s Ball” and “Some of these Days.” Sophie Tucker, the popular American singer, recorded “Some of these Days” and it became a huge hit. It was later repopularized as the theme song for the 1970s television sitcom “All in the Family.”  In addition to recording his compositions and vocals, Shelton Brooks wrote and recorded dozens of comedy sketches between 1918 and 1928.

Workers Arts and Heritage Centre

© 2007 Workers Arts and Heritage Centre - All Rights Reserved


Audio

Narrator (Cont’d): You are about to hear one of these rare sketches recorded on a “78” by OK Records on December 10th 1925. While the sketch is a stereotypical representation of Black speech and thought, this kind of performance was the only way that Black entertainers were accepted by white audiences. It was a way for Black entertainers to take the insulting “blackface” minstrel show antics performed by whites and make them their own. In fact, artists such as Bert Williams, Shelton Brooks and Pigmeat Markham paved the way for comedians like Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy today.

Workers Arts and Heritage Centre

© 2007 Workers Arts and Heritage Centre - All Rights Reserved


Audio

Narrator (Cont’d): Here now is Shelton Brooks in “The New Professor” playing the parts of the professor and the student.

Shelton Brooks’ ‘The New Professor’


[in dialect]

Professor: “Well pupils, I am yo’ new professor and I know that we is goin’ to get along very nicely. Y’all seems to look very intelligent and anything that I do adore is intelligence. Now, young man, what is yo’ name?

Pupil:  My name’s Rufus Green.

Professor:  Rufus Green. That’s a very, very funny name. Now Rufus, I’m gonna see what you know ‘bout history. Who was it that went into the Garden of Eden?”

Pupil:  “Adam.”
Professor:  “Right. Who went with him?”

Pupil:  “Red Hot Mamma.”

Professor:  “Right again. What did they discover in the Garden of Eden?

Pupil:  “Hmmm, hmmm. What was it they didn’t discover?”

Professor:  “That is not the question. What did they discover?”

Pupil:  “They discovered fruit.”

Professor:  “What kind of fruit did they discover?”

Pupil:  “Fruit that wouldn’t behave.”

Professor:  “I don’t know for sho’, but I think you’re right. So that ends yo’ lesson in history. Now, I’m going to see how you are on Mathematics. Now if there were three men on a bridge and one took a notion to jump off, how many would be left?”

Pupil:  “Well, there could be three left.”

Professor:  “How could there be three left when one took a notion to jump off?”

Pupil:  “Well, the one that took a notion to jump off might have changed his mind.”

Professor:  “Um, um …Rufus, if I must say, you are impossible. I’m going to give you another chance. Now supposing you and your buddy were in Africa hunting wild animals and a lion should eat one of you up. How many would be left?”

Pupil:  “That depends upon who got e’t up first – e’t up my buddy, that’s where one from two would leave nothin’ ‘cause I would ‘vaporate right in the air.”

Professor:  “That finishes you for the day. Now pupils, I want you all to give me the definition of the word ‘devotion’ ….  Come, come quickly now, quickly  ….. Well, that seems to be rather hard so I’ll explain it to you. Now I know a man who’s been married thirty years and has never spent one night away from home. Now that is really devotion, that man was devoted to his family. That man really must have been idolized.”

Pupil:  “No, no that ain’t what the matter with him. He must have been paralyzed.”

Professor:  “Umm, um… what kind of scholars is you all? What do you know about geography?”

Pupil:  “I know enough about it to let it alone.”

Professor:  “My goodness, there must be two of you ‘cause one kid couldn’t be so dumb. What is the largest island in the Pacific Ocean?”

Pupil:  “Hawaii, teacher.”

Professor:  “I’m well, thanks, how are you? … Oh my goodness, you all got me all confuddled, you’re so dumb. Rufus Green, who made you?”

Pupil:  “I don’t know, I wasn’t there.”

Professor:  “That does it. I now dismiss school forever.”

OK Records

© OK Records


Audio

O holy Lord,
Done with sin and sorrow;
Holy, holy, holy,
Holy is the Lord!

Sung by : Nathaniel Dett Chorale Composed by: R. Nathaniel Dett

© Nathaniel Dett


Audio

Narrator: You have just been listening to the music of R. Nathaniel Dett. Nathaniel Dett was born in Niagara Falls, Ontario in 1884. As a teenager, he moved with his parents to Niagara Falls, NY., and went on to study music formally, graduating with a Bachelor of Music degree in 1908 and Master of Music degree in 1932. He became a distinguished professor of music, prolific composer and choral director, leading the famous Hampton Institute Choir across Europe in 1930. The song you have just heard is called “O Holy Lord.” It was written in 1916 as an a cappella anthem in 8 parts and is based on the Negro spiritual by the same name. It had its first presentation by the famous Elgar Choir of Hamilton in 1917. It is being performed by the Nathaniel Dett Chorale on its CD entitled “Listen to the Lambs:  The Music of R. Nathaniel Dett” released in 2002. The conductor and artistic director is Brainerd Blyden-Taylor. The Nathaniel Dett Chorale is dedicated to preserving and honouring the memory of Dett and his music.

Workers Arts and Heritage Centre

© 2007 Workers Arts and Heritage Centre - All Rights Reserved


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • explain how Canada’s identity has been and continues to be shaped by its global participation;
  • comment on the political and social context of African Canadians between 1900 and World War II;
  • discuss civil rights of African Canadians from 1960 to now.

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