Black History Month Poster

The roots of Montreal’s Black community reach back four hundred years.

Written by Anne-Gaëlle Weber

Posted February 7, 2023

This poster for Montreal’s 1993 Black History Month celebrations was created by Martine Chartrand, a Montreal visual artist of Haitian origin. Born in 1962, Chartrand is renowned for her mastery of the technique of painting on glass. The figures at the top of the poster evoke the era of slavery in the fields and in domestic service, while those at the bottom illustrate the creativity of Black communities. Framed by the names of famous Black personalities, three central figures — a man, woman and child — embody different aspects of humanity, with the glowing silhouettes of the American and African continents radiating from their hearts.

Black History Month originated with a week of commemoration, inaugurated in February 1926 by American historian Carter G. Woodson. On January 28, 1992, Montreal officially recognized the month of February as Black History Month. Since then, this commemoration has become an opportunity to highlight the contributions of Black communities. Waves of arrivals have made Montreal the home of the largest Black community in Quebec: from the first enslaved Black Africans in the seventeenth century, to nineteenth-century African-Americans, Caribbean domestic workers in the 1950s and 1960s, Haitians fleeing the dictatorship of François Duvalier in the 1960s, and finally immigrants from from French-speaking Africa since the 1990s. Montreal’s Black community numbered more than 208,000 people in 2021.

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This object resides at the Montreal Archives.

This article originally appeared in 50 Merveilles de nos musées : les plus beaux trésors de la Francophonie Canadienne. The special interest publication was part of Projet Portage, a five-year initiative to connect history lovers in French and English Canada, generously supported by the Molson Foundation.

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