There are many defining moments in a country’s history and when Ben Johnson won the Olympic 100 meter dash with such an impressive time, the entire country was rocked. Canada proudly claimed him as its own. His criminal case later impacted sports history in another way, in respect to the use of steroids. Then he was Jamaican! It showed how race and sports create high tensions and higher expectations.
When an earlier sprinter, Harry Jerome, had issues with his legs that ultimately had him pull out of a major race, he too was marginalized since it was felt that he was not really trying his best. Today he is remembered through the Harry Jerome Awards for excellence in a range of fields. Excellence includes the effort to reach the top.
However, there have been a number of African-Canadians, who, despite the issues of their day, managed to achieve national and international acclaim. Sports figures such as 1936 Olympian Sammy Richardson (long jump), George Dixon and Sam Langford (boxing), Ferguson Jenkins (baseball), and Willie O’Ree (hockey), excelled in their fields.
Contemporary athletes, such as Sylvia Sweeney (basketball), Charmaine Crooks (runner), Donovan Bailey (sprinter), and Jarome Iginla (hockey) have continued the legacy of outstanding achievement in athletics. There are many others making their way up through the ranks.
From the Montreal Royals to Jackie Robinson
A brief note about the impact of far-reaching impact of Jackie Robinson joining the Montreal Royals in 1946.
A career profile of the legendary Jackie Robinson. From the Gale website.
Baseball, the Color Line, and Jackie Robinson
An account of the events leading to Jack (John) Roosevelt Robinson joining the Brooklyn Dodgers. Click on “letter” to read a letter Jackie Robinson wrote to Branch Rickey, President of the Brooklyn Baseball Club. From the website for the Library of Congress in the US.
Baseball: An Illustrated History
Scroll down to page 287 to read a riveting account of how Jackie Robinson successfully overcame the persistent prejudice of some baseball players and fans at the start of his career with the Brooklyn Dodgers. From Google Books.
The Skin I'm In
The book The Skin I'm In focuses on academic achievement and racial equality.
The Colored Hockey Championship of the Maritimes
How Blacks in the Maritimes had to fight racial intolerance to play hockey.
Rapid Ray: The Story of Ray Lewis
About a biography of Canadian track star Ray Lewis. From the Manitoba Library Association.
Breaking the Ice
About the experiences of Black hockey players in professional hockey. From Insomniac Press.