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.