By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express
Durham Region and the Durham Regional Police Service came together recently to celebrate the beginning of Black History Month.
The region and DRPS worked together with the Black History Society and the Canadian Jamaican Club of Durham to celebrate black inventors, this year’s theme.
On the day of the celebration, when one entered Regional Headquarters in Whitby, the sounds of steel pan drums filled the air, as steel pan drummer Django performed for those in attendance.
Before the speakers took the stage, The Refuge City Gospel and a dancing troupe from the Afiwi Groove Studio greeted those in attendance.
Before heading down to the African Inventors Museum on the lower floor of the building, those who were in attendance heard from several speakers, including Regional Chair and CEO John Henry, Police Chief Paul Martin, Canadian Jamaican Club of Durham President, Omar Wisdom, and Clarington regional councillor Granville Anderson.
In the end, the keynote speaker was Sean Mauricette, also known as Subliminal, a musician known for his mixture of soul and hip hop, as well as an actor known for films such as Disney’s Jump In and Phantom Punch.
Mauricette has also written a children’s book titled “A Name is Just for You,” and is also the first ever recipient of the Arts and Culture Award presented by the Black Students Association at the University of Toronto.
In 2011, he was awarded the Urban Hero Award for Arts and Culture for his work with high-risk youth in Toronto, and in 2012 he won the Sickle Cell Miracle Network’s Community Service award for Youth Leadership.
Mauricette also has a degree in architecture, which aided in his designing of a support centre for young fathers in Toronto.
To kick off Black History Month, Henry opened by saying, “People of African heritage have helped shape this province, our region and country.”
He also said, “Black History Month is the opportunity to look back with pride and to celebrate the accomplishments of our citizens.”
Wisdom said the theme of “black inventors” has allowed people to have a chance to reflect, and to see the contributions black inventors have had around the world.
When Wisdom spoke, he preached a message of kindness, respect and unity, saying, “United we stand, and divided we fall.”
While Mauricette was on the stage, he not only gave the audience a brief history of his time as a musician and beat boxer, but also discussed black history.
Mauricette noted people tend to immediately jump to slavery when discussing black history, but don’t ask what they were doing before.
He said before they were enslaved, they were called Moors, and could be seen throughout history, even sometimes after the slave trade began, as he noted with paintings of the first President of the United States, George Washington, where a Moor can be seen standing with or near him.
He says history is rich with Moors. “I didn’t realize the Moors dominated parts of Europe for like 700 years,” he exclaimed. “I saw this one image, a Medieval painting, from the 1400’s, and this painting is called ‘Wild Men and Moors.’”
He went on to describe the painting, noting the black king and queen in their castle, with a black army, fighting Germans in what would one day be present-day Germany.
“Why is this so important to me?” he asked. “Because, when I work with black youth today, I want them when they look in the mirror to understand where they come from, and I’m not just talking about coming from slavery and oppression.”