Our History & Heritage – African Nova Scotian Leaders
February is African Heritage Month. Each week this month we are celebrating the life and contributions of an impactful African Nova Scotian. This week we are focusing on Dr. Carrie Best.
A civil rights activist from New Glasgow, Dr. Carrie Best left a significant footprint on the African Nova Scotian community.
Dr. Best fought against racial discrimination her entire life. Throughout her teenage years, she wrote letters to local newspapers about how displeased she was with many racial stereotypes. In 1941, Dr. Best argued against race policy vocally and by letter when she heard that a group of high school girls were forcefully removed from the Roseland Theatre in her hometown. Her voice was unheard, so she decided to take matters into her own hands. She went to the theatre with her son and asked for tickets to the main section of the theatre, but was given tickets to the balcony. She left the tickets on the counter and continued on to the main section where she sat with her son. The theatre’s assistant manager then asked her to leave the section. After she refused, the police were called and charged Dr. Best and her son with disturbing the peace.
Dr. Best filed a civil lawsuit against the theatre that specified racial discrimination. The theatre argued that she and her son trespassed without tickets. The judge ignored the problem of discrimination, and also ordered Dr. Best to pay the theatre’s costs.
Dr. Best knew there was a serious problem with racism and segregation, so she did what she could to make sure her voice was heard. In 1946, she started the first Nova Scotian newspaper that was owned and published by African Canadians, The Clarion. This paper reported the news, sports, social events, and it also had a strong emphasis on improving race relations. Her paper began a national circulation in 1956 when it was renamed The Negro Citizen.