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Black history should be taught 365 days of the year – Audrey Parker

Published:Monday | February 8, 2021 | 12:18 AMCecelia Campbell-Livingston/Gleaner Writer
Audrey Parker.
Audrey Parker.

Jamaica-born Canadian Audrey Parker is passionate about black pride and self-worth. In fact, she strongly believes that black history should be celebrated 365 days a year in order that foreparents can be honoured.

“The theme this year is ‘The Black Family’, so I am making sure the kids know what that entails,” said Parker, who is a guidance counsellor at Brampton High School in Ontario, Canada.

Parker, who started out as a teacher, said she made it her mandate to push black history teaching so that the black students could learn a little more about their culture and history.

Commenting on the catalyst for introducing black history lessons she said, “I noticed that some of our black kids at the time didn’t know anything about black Canadians. What I would do is get presenters to come and talk to them from a Canadian perspective,” she shared.

Parker credits her self-awareness and self-worth to her mother Verona Francis, who hails from Brown’s Town, near Point Hill in St Catherine, and one she describes as a “strong black woman”.

Migrating at a young age to Canada, Parker credits her mother’s influence in her not only surviving, but embracing who she is.

“My mother is just an awesome human being, and so she gives me my strength. When I first came to Canada, I had to learn to physically defend myself,” she reminisced, adding that it was her mother who taught her she could stand up for herself without hitting anyone.

“I was shy and reserved but, with the knowledge that my mother and relative gave me, I had to look into myself that I am worthy to be here, and you have to learn to make people respect you and know who you are,” said Parker.

Through her work as a guidance counsellor, she said she impacts not just black children, but whatever race she comes across, as at the end of the day, she pushes self-acceptance.

But coming back to the subject which is near and dear to her heart – black consciousness - Parker stressed that there is still a long way to go, while acknowledging ‘slow progress’.

Throughout Black History Month, Parker has been hosting several events to celebrate the occasion, with her recently having Tessanne Chin performing for her students.

Also a big fan of foundation artiste Gem Myers, Parker praised the two for being generous and selfless with their time.

“They are the pillars of society and the best of humanity. Jamaica needs to know what they have done for our students during Black History Month. We need more people like them. They are authentic and really down to earth,” she said gushing.