Amid simmering social unrest in the late 1960s, Halifax invited twelve outside urban planning experts and community activists to take part in a remarkable social experiment: a week of events examining and critiquing the city's management, decisions, policies, and personnel. Each day was spent in secret meeting with local and provincial civil servants. But every evening was spent hearing from community members about how Halifax was being run by those in power, in sessions broadcast live on local CBC television.
The process brought to light the realities and conflicts of city life: poverty, unemployment, bad housing, homelessness. But above all was the issue of race — and the often undisguised racism of the majority towards the city's Afro-Canadian population. Emerging from the story is a host of fascinating characters ranging from the charismatic black leader Rocky Jones to the unabashed racists then in positions of power in the police, city government, and local business.
With racism an ongoing challenge for Nova Scotia, this account of a recent and mostly-forgotten episode in Halifax history has immediate relevance for a city wrestling with issues of equality, diversity, and inclusiveness.
Born and raised in Halifax, ROBERT ASHE began his journalism career in 1978 and has worked as a sportswriter, editor, photographer, crime reporter, and feature writer for several daily and weekly newspapers. Robert worked as a communication specialist and senior advisor in the federal government for 27 years. He has written four books, Just Enough Fog to Keep it Cool, Even the Babe Came to Play, Halifax Champion: Black Power in Gloves, and They Called Me Chocolate Rocket, a memoir he collaborated on with professional hockey coach and Haligonian John Paris Jr. Robert lives in Ottawa, Ontario.