More than 5,300 people have signed a petition from Anti-Racism Coalition Vancouver, calling on B.C. Minister of Education Jennifer Whiteside to designate Jan.15 as Black Shirt Day in recognition of the struggle for human and civil rights for Black and racialized Canadians.
Black Shirt Day would fall on the same day as the birthday of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. People across B.C. already annually observe Orange Shirt Day, in solidarity with Indigenous victims of residential schools, and Pink Shirt Day, an anti-bullying campaign.
As Black Shirt Day awaits official recognition in the coming years, a social media movement surrounding this year’s event has been in the works since the petition was created in November. The University of Calgary Black Law Students Association is one of the most recent organizations announcing their participation.
Schools in B.C. participating in Black Shirt Day include Homma Elementary School in Richmond, Ladner Elementary, Capitol Hill Elementary in Burnaby and New Westminster Schools.
“This year’s inaugural event is very important on two levels: it’s a day during which people wear black shirts in recognition of the ongoing struggle for civil rights fought by Black and racialized Canadians, and a day of continued education in schools to combat racism,” said a statement from the Anti-Racism Coalition.
The first Black Shirt Day comes in the wake of worldwide protests calling for racial equality throughout 2020, sparked by the death of a Black man, George Floyd, after being restrained by Minneapolis police.
The Change.org petition’s ultimate goal is to reach 10,000 signatures.