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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Viola Desmond, 'Canada's Rosa Parks' Finally Receives a Posthumous Free Pardon 


Rosa Parks should actually be called the 'US's Viola Desmond' since her story preceded Parks' by 9 years but we know that goes! Here's the story [via Wikipedia] for those not knowing:

"On November 8, 1946, Viola Desmond refused to sit in the balcony designated exclusively for blacks in the Roseland Theatre in New Glasgow but, instead, she took her seat on the ground floor where only white people were allowed to sit. After being forcibly removed from the theatre and arrested, Desmond was eventually found guilty of not paying the one-cent difference in tax on the balcony ticket from the main floor theatre ticket. She was fined $20 ($251.30 in 2010 and court costs ($6). She paid the fine but decided to fight the charge in court.

During subsequent trials the government insisted on arguing that this was a case of tax evasion. Retail sales tax was calculated based on the price of the theatre ticket. Since the theatre would only agree to sell the Black woman a cheaper balcony ticket, but she had insisted upon sitting in the more expensive main floor seat, she was one cent short on tax. For her crime of so-called tax evasion, she was removed from the theatre, thrown in jail overnight, tried without counsel, convicted and fined. During the trial, no one admitted that Viola Desmond was Black, and that the theatre maintained a racist seating policy. The trial proceeded as if it related to race-neutral tax evasion. All efforts to have the conviction overturned at higher levels of court failed. Her lawyer returned her fee which she used to set up a fund that was eventually used to support activities of the Nova Scotia Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NSAACP)."

Almost 65 years later the Nova Scotia government has finally done the right thing. Read about it HERE. [Globe & Mail]

More takes in the Canadian media: The National Post | The Montreal Gazette

And read the official Government of Nova Scotia Press Release HERE.


Read Black History Canada on Viola Desmond HERE.

Viola Desmond - A Black Canadian Hero. {Digital Journal]

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