Viola Desmond, 1946
Viola Desmond was a woman ahead of her time on several levels. In 1946 she was a young, successful, Black, female entrepreneur. At a young age she had recognized a lack of beauty services for Black women and launched the Desmond Studio of Beauty Culture and the Desmond School of Beauty Culture. With an increasing number of graduates from her school, she successfully established a province-wide demand for her products and services. In 1946, while delivering products to customers, she had car trouble in New Glasgow. It was while waiting for the repairs to be done that she ran into trouble with the local authorities for refusing to move out of the "White" section of a movie theatre, and ended up being injured, arrested and charged. Despite losing her fight for Black rights at the Supreme Court of Canada, segregation was outlawed in Nova Scotia in 1954. Ms. Desmond eventually left Canada for New York City where she died in 1965. The government of Nova Scotia issued a formal apology to her family in 2010 and Canada Post issued a stamp in her honour.
Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia