Tribute to Viola Desmond.

Viola Desmond.Viola Desmond is a true heroine of the civil rights movement. She was arrested on November 8th, 1946 in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia after refusing to move from the white-only section of a racially segregated movie theatre. Viola was removed from the theatre by force, subsequently jailed overnight, tried, convicted, and fined. All without access to legal representation.

Her case helped sway public opinion and put an end to segregation. But it was only as late as 2010 that she was granted a posthumous free pardon, and the government of Nova Scotia formerly apologized.

On Monday 16th February 2015 a public holiday in Nova Scotia was dedicated in her honour. In 2016 one of Halifax’s harbour ferries was named after her. And lately it was announced Viola Desmond will feature on the Canadian $10 dollar note from 2018. So it seems after decades of obscurity, the courage of Viola Desmond is finally getting some recognition.

In the illustration I strived to recreate the tension in the theatre on the night of Viola Desmond’s arrest. The drawing was published in The Chronicle Herald, here is a link to the article.

45 thoughts on “Tribute to Viola Desmond.

  1. Lovely how this drawing reveals a different aspect of your range of expression. The opaque glasses on the usher is an effective detail. I never heard the story of Viola Desmond until your post. I’m very glad she got the posthumous free pardon, alas that it was posthumous, and alas for the events that occasioned the need for it in the first place.

    • Hi Maria, I’m glad you picked up on the opaque glasses, I thought the usher would appear more threatening that way. Drawings are full of decisions. Thanks for taking the time to comment, and have a great weekend. Russell.

  2. It took some serious bravery for our civil rights leaders to do what they did. “Progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability.” It always takes more courage to take the high road, the way of peace.

    • Yes it certainly did Robert, bravery and civil courage are a powerful antidote for bigots who don’t have a place in our society. Thanks for your considered comment, Russell.

    • You’re welcome. I agree, and I’m always equally astonished and disgusted that racism still rears it’s ugly head in this day and age. Thanks for taking the time to comment, and making a valid point. Russell.

  3. Your drawing is striking and cuts straight to the emotions being experienced by Viola at that moment. Amazing! Also thanks for sharing her story. I had never heard about her. We need more stories like this to shake us out of our complacency. Best regards,

    • Hi Aban, thank you. And thanks for taking the time to comment. Yes, Viola is an inspiration to us all to stand up for what you believe in. All the best, Russell.

  4. I think this is a brilliant drawing Russell, it draws me in – and a great post, too. We need to keep remembering the important things that brave people have done. I’m proud to be your friend – hope all’s well and best wishes, Jo

    • Thanks Jo. Yes, so many people have stood their ground to try and make this world a better place, lets try not to forget them. That’s so nice of you to say Jo, I’m proud to be your friend too. Take care, Russell.

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