Honouring Black History Month

Black History Month

Understanding where we are today and how we can move to a more equitable and inclusive tomorrow, starts with reflections of the past. Each February, inspired by the idea of Carter G. Woodson, first taken up in Canada by Stanley G. Grizzle, and then actioned nationally by the Honourable Jean Augustine and Senator Donald Oliver, we collectively listen, engage, and learn about our Black Canadian histories. Black History Month is a time for us to come together as a community to honour the contributions, achievements, and lived experiences of Black Canadians. 

See the president's message honouring Black History Month 2021 »


Upcoming Black History Month Events

New events will be added as they become available, so be sure to check back to see the latest opportunities available.

Archive of Past Events »

Featured Stories

UNIVERSITY NEWS
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The Power of Conversation: Sharing My Experiences as a Black Woman in Academia

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History of black immigration sheds light on forgotten connection between Alberta and Oklahoma

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Great-granddaughter of Black settlers chronicles Alberta’s little-known history

Alumni Spotlights

Black scholars, students, and alumni have been influential in shaping Canada’s history, achieving both provincial and national firsts, sharing their groundbreaking expertise, and working to uplift the whole people through their work within the broader community. In honour of Black History Month, we recognize some of our grads who are doing great things in Alberta and beyond.

We'll be adding their stories throughout the month.


Violet King

Violet King

’52 BA, ’53 LLB

Violet King

’52 BA, ’53 LLB

“People told me it wasn’t a good idea— so I went ahead” 

The only woman in her graduating Law class, Violet King was a leader with every step she took. From her time as the U of A Students' Union Vice-president to the moment when she became Canada's first Black female lawyer, her story continues to lead us all forward.


Violet King began her studies at the U of A in 1948, graduated with a BA in 1952, and then entered law school, one of only three women in a student body of 142. During her time as a student, she was vice-president of the Students’ Union and class historian. King received her law degree in 1953 and was called to the bar June 2, 1954, two weeks after the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education, which declared separate schooling for blacks and whites unconstitutional.

King practised criminal law and worked for the Department of Citizenship and Immigration in Ottawa. In 1963, she moved to the United States to take on the role of associate general secretary of the YW-YMCA in Newark, N.J. Her job focused on assisting black applicants in their employment searches. In 1969, she moved to the Chicago YMCA to become the director of manpower, planning and staff development. In 1976, she became the first woman named to a senior management position with the American national YMCA organization.

Violet King died of cancer in 1981, leaving a legacy her pioneering grandparents would undoubtedly be proud of.

Titilope Sonuga

Titilope Sonuga

’08 BSc(CivEng)

Titilope Sonuga

’08 BSc(CivEng)

“I never walk into a space and feel like I don’t deserve to be there.” 

Too often words go unsaid, but spoken-word poet Titilope Sonuga, has always found an audience. From inspiring females in STEM, to addressing a nation, her experiences speak to the importance of presence. 


As a poet, a writer and a performer, Titilope Sonuga knows artful communication is integral to who she is. Even while she was building roads as a civil engineer, she found herself writing poems in the borders of design drawings in the middle of construction sites. It became clear that poetry wasn't just a hobby, so she took a chance on herself and her art. Through her practice, she grasps for moments of tenderness and persistent joy at the intersection of blackness and womanhood. She is the author of three collections of poetry, Down to Earth (2011), Abscess (2014) and This Is How We Disappear (2019) and has released two spoken word albums, Mother Tongue (2011) and Swim (2019). Titilope is the writer of three plays, The Six; an intergenerational exploration of womanhood, Naked; a one-woman play and Ada The Country, a musical. She has facilitated numerous youth and adult poetry workshops locally and internationally. She also co-founded the Breath In Poetry performance collective in Edmonton. In 2015, Sonuga was the first poet to perform at a Nigerian presidential inauguration ceremony. She has been a TEDx speaker in Edmonton and an Intel Corporation ambassador for its She Will Connect program, which encourages young women to pursue careers in engineering, science and technology. She plays a lead role on a Nigerian TV show called Gidi Up. In the decade that she has dedicated herself to her art, Sonuga has ultimately taken a journey to finding her true self.

Anthony Fields

Anthony Fields

’74 MD

Anthony Fields

’74 MD

“You have given me a torch of understanding...”

Cancer does not discriminate, nor does physician and researcher Anthony Fields. Inspired and touched by the journey of each patient, this Order of Canada recipient has positively affected cancer care in Alberta more than anyone in recent memory.


A member of the Order of Canada, Tony Fields' entire career has been devoted to improving the care and treatment provided to people living with cancer. In the words of Lorne Tyrrell, director of the U of A's Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology, Tony Fields "has affected cancer care in Alberta more than any other individual in recent memory." Born and raised in Barbados, Fields studied natural sciences at the University of Cambridge and graduated from the U of A's Faculty of Medicine in 1974. At Alberta Health Services, he was responsible for the province's tertiary and associate cancer centres, community oncology programs and cancer research programs. At Edmonton's Cross Cancer Institute, where Fields also served as director, he specialized in the treatment of patients with gastrointestinal cancers. He also served as vice-president of medical affairs and community oncology with the Alberta Cancer Board, and is a past president of the National Cancer Institute of Canada and the Canadian Association of Medical Oncologists.

Samuel Óghale Oboh

Samuel Óghale Oboh

’10 MA

Samuel Óghale Oboh

’10 MA

“It is a time to reflect and share our collective experiences”

Creating beautiful buildings and sustainable environments not only enhances people’s quality of life but can break down barriers, as architect Samuel Oboh has demonstrated. As the first Canadian of African descent to be elected President of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, Oboh uses good design as a tool to foster social equity and transformative change in our society. 


Born in Nigeria, architect Samuel Óghale Oboh is a principal at Edmonton-based Ensight+ Architecture. A distinguished Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and the 2015 President of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC), Oboh became the first Canadian of African descent to lead the 114-year-old royal institute. He has successfully designed, managed and delivered several projects in Canada and internationally — including the multibillion-dollar Alberta Legislature Centre Redevelopment Project — where, as lead architect, he led and contributed to capturing the spirit of Alberta’s most significant heritage site in a variety of creative and innovative forms. A former Vice-President-Architecture at a Fortune 500 Company and recipient of several awards and recognitions including the AIA President’s medal in 2015 and the 2016 Excellence Magazine Award for Leadership, Oboh is an adjunct design studio reviewer and lecturer to several universities around the world and the Honorary Consul for the Republic of Botswana in Canada.

Sarah Adomako-Ansah

Sarah Adomako-Ansah

’13 BEd

Sarah Adomako-Ansah

’13 BEd

“I feel very hopeful. I feel like change is not a bad word right now. It’s a good word.”

Already a leader in her classroom, teacher Sarah Adomako-Ansah is expanding those skills both professionally and in the community, co-founding the Black Teachers’ Association of Alberta and working towards becoming a principal.


Sarah Adomako-Ansah was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta. She holds a Bachelor of Education from the University of Alberta. She has been teaching with Edmonton Catholic School Division since April of 2013 and is working to become a Principal in the Division. Sarah is a lead tutor with the Council of Canadians of African and Caribbean Heritage (CCACH) and, alongside Andrew Parker, is the co-founder of the Black Teachers’ Association of Alberta.

Selwyn Jacob

Selwyn Jacob

’70 BEd

Selwyn Jacob

’70 BEd

I feel I’ve contributed to the continuing evolution of what it means to be a Canadian.

History demands perspective, and from the lens of his camera, award winning documentarian Selwyn Jacob has preserved and brought to light Canada’s Black histories.


Selwyn Jacob is an award-winning filmmaker with a commitment to telling important narratives with a social impact. He produced close to 50 films during his 22 years with the National Film Board. Jacob, who was born in Trinidad, came to Canada in the 1960’s with the dream of becoming a filmmaker. In 1991, he was one of three filmmakers invited by the National Film Board of Canada to create projects that could be used in schools to discuss racism and discrimination. The result: the film “Carol’s Mirror” - a short that focused on a young Black girl who wanted to play Snow White in her school concert. He’s described this opportunity as a pioneering one - as it marked a pivotal moment when non-white filmmakers were given the opportunity to write and direct a story of their own creation from their own perspective. Other films have included his first, “We Remember Amber” - inspired by his time teaching in rural Alberta, the documentary highlighted the world’s most northern Black community of settlers and the policies that both brought them to Canada and prevented others from continuing to join them. He joined the National Film Board’s BC & Yukon Studio in 1997, his many producing credits include “Crazywater'', directed by Inuvialuit filmmaker Dennis Allen; “Hue: A Matter of Colour”, directed by Vic Sarin; “Mighty Jerome”, written and directed by Charles Officer. Jacob’s most recent feature documentary credits include Mina Shum’s “Ninth Floor”, about the infamous Sir George Williams Riot of 1969 that was selected to TIFF’s 2015 annual top ten list of best Canadian films. As a documentarian, he’s preserved and brought to light the stories of Canada’s histories.

Andrew Parker

Andrew Parker

’08 BA, ’14 BEd

Andrew Parker

’08 BA, ’14 BEd

“My challenge to our city is — I already know it's a great city — how can we lead by example for the rest of the nation. How can Edmonton lead by example?”

From inspiring Edmontonians last June with his speech at the Black Lives Matter rally, to co-founding the Black Teachers’ Association and founding streetball tournament Pride of the Northside, teacher, athlete and activist Andrew Parker is a committed force for community empowerment.


As the son of Jamaican and Grenadian parents, husband and father of two, and proud member of the North Edmonton community, creating and locating opportunities for community connection has been a major focus for Andrew Parker. From his work in Edmonton’s schools, to the youth outreach tournament called Pride Of The Northside, the two-time grad and Golden Bears basketball veteran knows how to bring people together. And he continued to do so this summer when he spoke at a rally for Black and Indigenous rights in Edmonton. A teacher, Parker was proud to see many of his students and former students there. It got him thinking about mentorship, and he knew it was time to take action. He and fellow teacher Sarah Adomako-Ansah, formed the Black Teachers’ Association of Alberta to improve representation, communication, inclusion and networking for Black teachers. In bringing together this group, he’s still maintained the belief that community is a shared experience and shared responsibility - so he often shares his thanks with all allies of all colours for the work being done to help make our communities more inclusive.