Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter

June 03, 2020

At River Bookshop we are appalled and saddened by recent developments in the United States. Their cruel handling of racist acts date back hundreds of years and while there has been some progress over those years it appears now that they have taken a major step backwards under their current racist Federal leadership. As Canadians it is tempting to sit back and proudly say that’s not Canada.  But no — racism is real in Canada. We too have systemic racism in our institutions and our society and shutting one’s eyes to our unconscious biases do not make them go away.

In Amherstburg and Essex County we have always  been impacted by the horrific way the United States has treated its Black citizens.  In the early to mid-nineteenth century our town was one of the major Canadian endpoints on the Underground Railroad that helped escaping freedom seekers. In 1967 we were shocked watching Detroit burn. And today many of our residents have families or jobs on the other side of the river who experience the States’ failings up close and personal. We hope that everyone, including Canadians, learn from this history.

It’s  good that more people are speaking out. One’s voice can be a powerful asset. But today voices are simply not enough - people, politicians, organizations and businesses need to take action. 

The River Bookshop will be a community hub that is lead by its values: educate, inspire and engage. We will also  be a safe place that welcomes people of all races, creeds and colours.  We are going to curate titles and speakers that educate and inspire you to fight for social change. We'll offer books that talk to the issues, solutions and the people who are making a difference. We will bring in speakers and authors that will share the stories and thoughts of those with first-hand knowledge . 

In Amherstburg we are also fortunate to have the Amherstburg Freedom Museum that tells the story of African-Canadians’ journey and contributions. The River Bookshop will be supporting the excellent work museum president Monty Logan  and his team are doing to tell the story of Black Canadians.  We hope to collaborate with them not only during Black History month but throughout the year as well, highlighting the important issues they address and the work they are doing. Amherstburg’s Freedom Museum is a community jewel. Right now it is closed due to Covid 19, but when it’s open again make sure you show your support by visiting it. Check out to learn more.

Today it’s up to all of us if we wish to make Amherstburg an even more welcoming place for everyone. 

“If you believe in a cause, be willing to stand up for that cause with a million people or by yourself.”

Otis S. Johnson

Remember, if you only access one source of information, you are only hearing one side of the story. To that end we’ve left you with the list below of some Black Canadian thinkers, writers and activists and their works.

Your River Bookshop Team 


Suggested Reading

Blank: Essays and Interviews - M. NourbeSe Philip

In the Black: My LIfe - B. Denham Jolly

The Hanging of Angelique: The Untold Story of Canadian Slavery and the Burning of Old Montreal - Afua Cooper

North of the Color Line: Migration and Black Resistance in Canada, 1870-1955 - Sarah Jane Mathieu

Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to Present - Robyn Maynard

The Skin We’re In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power - Desmond Cole

Black Like Who? Writing.Black.Canada - Rinaldo Walcott

To the River: The Remarkable Journey of Caroline Quarlls, an Underground Railroad Freedom Seeker - Kimberly Simmons 

A Fluid Frontier: Slavery, Resistance, and the Underground Railroad in the Detroit River Borderland - Karolyn Smardz Frost, Veta Smith Tucker, et al.

Emancipation Day- Natasha Henry

We're Rooted Here and They Can’t Pull Us Up:’ Essays in African Canadian Women’s History. - Peggy Bristow et al.

A Fly in the Pail of Milk: The Herb Carnegie Story - Herb Carnegie and Bernice Carnegie

They Call Me George: The Untold Story of Black Train Porters and the Birth of Modern Canada - Cecil Foster

My Name's Not George - The story of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters : personal reminiscences of Stanley G. Grizzle - Stanley Grizzle

Children's Books

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History - Vashti Harrison

Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History 

Hair Love - Matthew Cherry and Vashti Harrison

Africville - Shauntay Grant and Eva Campbell

Big Dreamers: The Canadian Black History Activity Book for Kids Volume 1 - Akilah Newton, Tami Gabay, et al.

Viola Desmond Won't Be Budged- Jody Nyasha Warner and Richard Rudnicki