Viola Won’t Budge

A huge thank you to the PA for sponsoring the fantastic Viola Desmond presentation from Arts Express last month.  Barbara Yebuga performed the story Viola Desmond Won’t Budge, by Jody Warner and illustrated by Richard Rudnicki. Viola is on our $10 bill and is often referred to as the Canadian Rosa Parks. Barbara pointed out that Viola’s courageous stand took place in 1946, ten years before Rosa’s. You could argue that Rosa is the American Viola!

Before the story, to provide context, Barbara spoke with the children about the meaning of the words racism, slavery and segregation. She brought powerful visuals and spoke in words the children could really understand. Barbara also played all the characters in the story – Viola, an independent businesswoman, the movie theatre usher that asked her to leave her seat in the ‘whites only’ section, and the police officer that arrested her.

The Grades 1-3’s stuck around after the show for questions and the discussion was very thought-provoking. Barbara asked the children what they would have done in Viola’s place and they all said they would have been brave too. Barbara told the children she wasn’t quite so sure she would have been as brave as Viola given that people were killed for doing what she did. It’s incredible to imagine just how brave Viola was in that moment. She risked everything. Barbara ended her time with the children by asking them to promise, all together, that if they ever saw something bad happening to another person because of the colour of their skin that they would speak up and do something just like Viola did.