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Wednesday January 5, 2011 in Books
In 1965, Africville, the largest and oldest black community in Canada was bulldozed into memory. What was lost to the politicians of Halifax was an inconvenience, an eyesore. But what was lost to the people whose roots ran deep through the once-vibrant community was an entire way of life. The hamlet’s roots went back to the 1830s, when it began to be settled by descendants of the Black Loyalists, the Black Pioneers and others who fled the horrors of slavery in America for the relative freedom of Canada. Africville flourished for generations as a tight-knit agricultural settlement, and its people had every right to expect the public services available to all other citizens of the Halifax peninsula. Homeowners in Africville paid city taxes, but after years of being unfairly and ruthlessly denied even the most basic of modern conveniences, including electricity, running water, and a proper sewage system, which were readily available to all of the rest of the citizens of Halifax, the decision by city officials to locate the municipal dump a stone’s throw from Africville created a rat-infested, slum-like environment for the already beleaguered neighbourhood. Condemned as unsanitary, its residents were told to sell their homes if they could, before finally being evicted without compensation as the bulldozers moved in. The final injustice was that part of Africville was demolished to make way for an off-leash dog park; the rest of the land was used to build the approaches to the A. Murray MacKay Bridge.
In Consecrated Ground, Nova Scotian playwright George Boyd retells the struggle of Africville’s residents to save their homes and their dignity. With tremendous wit and gravity, George Boyd takes us back to Africville on the verge of extinction, making us a gift of characters believable in their vulnerabilities, their courage and their outrage.
ISBN 13: 9780889226661 | ISBN 10: 889226660
5.5 W x 8.5 H inches | 96 pages
$16.95 CAN / $16.95 US
Backlist | Drama | Bisac: DRA013000, DRA000000
QUOTES OF NOTE
“… raw theatrical force … Sharply drawn, warmly human, and ultimately very moving." — Halifax Daily News
“The only good produced by the disappearance of Africville was the appearance of a conscious black nationalism … In this regard, Consecrated Ground is the heir of fierce, vengeful, and epic activism.” —George Elliott Clarke
“ Consecrated Ground establishes the historical, spiritual, and spatial connection that [Africville] has with and to the more conventionally defined Canadian landscape.” — Theatre Research in Canada
“Boyd combines the larger social issues with a concise view of a domestic relationship that suffers severely from the circumstances. Consecrated Ground provides an excellent case study for the impact of environmental racism. The Africville that Boyd represents embodies the world-wide pattern in which particular communities, often communities inhabited by people of colour, are at a high risk of living and working in environmentally hazardous conditions.” — Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal
“Most contemporary black theatre deals with themes of ancestors, family, home and our place in the world. As a piece of writing, Consecrated Ground ranks with Greek and Shakespearean tragedy with its epic, heroic struggle against impossible odds.” — NOW Magazine
About the ContributorsGeorge Boyd
George Elroy Boyd is a highly acclaimed Nova Scotian playwright and journalist who has been based in Montreal for the last three years as playwright-in-residence at the Black Theatre Workshop. His plays have been produced by the Neptune Theatre, Eastern Front Theatre, Obsidian Theatre, and the CBC. The founder of the Canadian Black Theatre Society, Boyd has been nominated for a Governor General’s Award for his play Consecrated Ground (2000), and Gideon’s Blues has been adapted into film, which was released in 2004.
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts; the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF); and the Province of British Columbia through the British Columbia Arts Council for our publishing activities.