Community Dufferin News Opinions

Andrew Cunningham: Black History Month in Dufferin

Special Thanks to the Dufferin County Canadian Black Association

An Introduction To Andrew Cunningham of Shelburne, Ontario

Andrew Cunningham arrived in Shelburne, Ontario, with his family in 2017. Before moving to the area, Cunningham and a friend initiated a drop-in basketball program for teenagers. In addition to leading youths in athletics, they would mentor and provide guidance to these individuals. He hopes to continue this work in a similar capacity now that he has settled here in Dufferin. Cunningham agreed to participate in a conversation about Black History Month that was made available to the community.

Prompt: What Does Black History Month Mean To You?

When asked what Black History Month means to him personally, Andrew Cunningham says that it is an occasion when one “appreciates where they are, and everything leading up to this moment.” After a brief recounting of the Black community’s history in the Americas, beginning with the forced migration, Cunningham emphasizes a need to look at the “totality” of Black History, at the “oppressed” and the “oppressors.”

“It’s one history, it’s what carried us to this point, and that’s where we have this culmination now of looking at the total picture and saying ‘Wow, is this fair? Is this just?’, and we need to work on it to make it a balanced society for everyone. That’s Black History.”

Prompt: What Do You Think Black History Month Means To The Community?

According to Andrew Cunningham, Black History represents accomplishment to the community. He highlights the importance of seeing “practical images” in all capacities of leadership so that everyone knows what is achievable.

“Black History is more than just talking about it. We need some practical steps to make sure we have identifiable change in our community,” declares Cunningham. “It’s better for all of society when we have that, for all people.”

Prompt: Have You Seen Progress Made In The Community?

In terms of progress being made in the community on race-related issues, Andrew Cunningham indicates there are positive signs. He quickly points out Shelburne’s Anti-Black Racism, Anti-Racism & Discrimination Task Force and the recommendations made to council. Furthermore, Cunningham also calls attention to Dufferin County’s Warden Darren White, “you can hear the authentic willingness to be practical with the issues.”

“Council has received the voice of the community and has implemented many of those communications,” praises Cunningham. “We have come a long way, and we are progressing, but there is a ways yet to go. We have achieved a lot, don’t misunderstand. I can speak proudly of this community! We have accomplished, but yet there’s a lot to be accomplished.”

Prompt: What Would You Like The Community to Know?

“We are all the same, don’t be blinded by the visible difference. The civil rights movement has taught us a lot. The opponents of the civil rights movement, and the partners of the civil rights movement, they’re a common people. Black, White, Indian, everybody.”

Andrew Cunningham delves further into this notion.

“In my mind, what the obstacle is, we have to look at the opponents. We can’t just gloss over it,” he affirms, “Why is there such an opposition to justice? To humanity? To struggles?”

Shortly before closing, Cunningham makes the following remark.

“Black History is ‘people history’, not ‘colour history’. It’s ‘people history’, because running parallel are oppressed and oppressors.”

Full Discussion with Andrew Cunningham on Black History Month in Dufferin

Disclosure: Special thanks to the Dufferin County Canadian Black Association, a registered non-profit that Dufferin’s Spotlight is partnered with.

Dufferin County Canadian Black Association

References – Andrew Cunningham: Black History Month in Dufferin

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