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Editorial: Harry Jerome Oval a welcome announcement during Black History Month

It’s an honour befitting one of Canada’s greatest athletes who was also a respected educator and activist
Harry and Valerie
Speedy siblings Harry Jerome and Valerie Jerome hit the track at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome.

When Harry Jerome’s family arrived in North Vancouver’s Ridgeway neighbourhood in 1951, the community rallied – to keep them out. He and his siblings were pelted with rocks and epithets on their first day of school.

No doubt, some of the people who subjected the Jerome family to such overt racism are still living here today. We hope, in hindsight, they know how wrong they were.

This week, as Black History Month comes to its end following a pivotal year in the ongoing movement for racial equity, the District of West Vancouver and the West Vancouver school district have announced their new track will be named the Harry Jerome Oval.

For this, we have nothing but praise. It’s an honour befitting one of Canada’s greatest athletes who was also a respected educator and activist. More importantly, it will serve as a poignant reminder to us of the Jeromes’ lived experience and that Black history must not be Black future.

In May of 2020, it took the video of the violent, slow, choking death of a black man at the hands of police to snap a lot of otherwise oblivious people out of complacency. But it is not just police injustice that needs to be eradicated. It is the more subtle, hiding-in-plain-sight forms of white supremacy that need to be understood and corrected – in education, health care, employment, sports and media. As Canadians, we do no one any favours by repeating the fiction that racism is an American problem.

To name a track after Harry Jerome is a proud legacy for his family. To live up to the ideals he espoused will be a proud legacy for us all.

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