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Settling Africville

The story of Africville focuses on its lamentable end: The destruction of the historical, African-Nova Scotian community in the 1960's by Halifax City Council votes and bulldozers. But "Settling Africville" reminds us that the creation of the War of 1812 Black Refugee community was a revolutionary act, a fact deplored by Nova Scotia governor Lord Dalhousie and the great writer Thomas Chandler Haliburton.

The colonial Nova Scotian leaders viewed the incoming War of 1812 refugees as being only good for cheap labour and settled them on the worst lands, so that they could not become economically independent. But the arrival of Richard Preston, in 1816, and his creation of the African Baptist Association, anchored villages like Africville around a church, thus giving them a sense of identity.

"Settling Africville" establishes these truths: That colonial Blacks had to fight to have their Nova Scotianness recognized. But it never really was. And they still founded communities anyway.

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