ANTHONY MORGAN - ROLE MODEL & AMBASSADOR
LAWYER / SOCIAL AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR / SOCIAL JUSTICE ADVOCATE.
Officially Inducted into the “National Wall of Role Models” on June 7, 2014 ( See full list www.BlackCanadianAwards.com )
Anthony is a bilingual lawyer, social affairs commentator and social justice advocate based in the Greater Toronto Area (Brampton), Canada. He is passionately committed to social justice and serving the principles of equity, civic engagement, and multiculturalism, interests he often explores as a blogger for the Huffington Post Canada. Anthony has worked as a research assistant for both a sitting judge of the Court of Quebec, Judge Juanita Westmoreland-Traoré, and McGill Law professor, Adelle Blackett. He has also worked as a Civil Rights Advocate at the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations in Montreal, and an associate editor of the McGill International Journal of Sustainable Development Law & Policy. In 2009-2010, he served as the President of the Black Law Students’ Association of Canada.
Anthony maintains an active interest in matters concerning Black Canadian social and political affairs and Caribbean and African diaspora politics. In February 2012, he was one of 12 people to be officially recognized as a Black History Month Laureate by Quebec’s Roundtable on Black History Month.
In addition to holding both an LL.B (Common Law) and B.C.L. (Civil Law) from McGill University, Faculty of Law, he holds a Hons. Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto in Ethics, Society & Law.
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
Same as above. I will like to use this opportunity to say I am very honored and most thankful to be profiled by Black Canadians.
What many people may not know about you?
I was born and raised in Canada and in all of my life my time spent outside of Canada does not add up to a full year. Yet, I did not come to comfortably accept myself as a Canadian until 2012.
I used to play hockey at a highly competitive level from the time I was 7 until my late teens.
I had a short stint as a child actor, appearing in one season of the long-canceled show on YTV, System Crash.
What's your inspiration and how do you get motivated?
My inspirations are the history and contemporary realities of Black peoples’ struggles for the respectful recognition and enjoyment of our full humanity, dignity, and freedom. I get motivated by remembering that my paternal grandmother arrived in Canada in the 1960s to work in Antigonish, Nova Scotia as a Jamaican domestic. She had nothing but a 45-pound bag of luggage, hope and a dream of a better life for her children and their children.
How did you get to where you are now and what more should we expect?
I got to where I am now because of the love that I have received from family, church, and community, and also because of the foundation I was blessed to obtain at an early age in the rich history of Black communities and leaders. I could not have been older than 3 or 4 when my parents first sat me down to watch the first two VHS videos I ever remember seeing; one on the life of Martin Luther King Jr., the other was on the biggest student “riot” in Canadian history. It is referred to as the “Sir George Williams Affair” or the “Computer Riots” and was led by Black university students in Montreal in the late 1960s. For Black people, few things are more potent than true knowledge of self. Such is an essential pillar of every great civilization.
You should expect that I will continue to use the access, opportunities and blessings afforded to me to support the peoples, places and principles that have made me who I am.
What would you like to be remembered for?
For the love, I gave to my family and community in my aim to live by the lyrics of the song, “The Impossible Dream”.
How do you balance work, family, friends and leisure?
My leisure time with my friends and family is quite precious to me. It’s my fuel, my energy and it grounds my work. Balance sustains me. It’s a work in progress for me to maintain, but it is something that I am perfecting each day.
What's your favorite food, book, music and movie?
Food: It’s a tie between any Jamaican food made by my grandmother.
Book: “The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual” by Harold Cruse
Music: Roots & Culture Reggae; anything by the rapper, Shad.
Movie: Spike Lee’s “Bamboozled”
What's your experience as a Black person in Canada?
This question brings me back to Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s 1762 text, On the Social Contract, which opens with the words, “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.” To characterize my experience as a Black person in Canada, I would adopt that quote to read, “The Black man in Canada is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.” Black males in Canada are inordinately subject to stereotypes; prejudice and discrimination that exist within the national consciousness and political mores of Canadian society and that are also internalized by too many Canadians, Black males included. So the chains that bind us are not only the physical ones that result from being involved in the criminal justice system, but also those that are arguably infinitely more damaging; the psychological chains that more deeply enforce and reinforce an anemic self-concept, low self-esteem and ignorance of our actual strengths, value and ability to contribute to our families and country as Black males.
Are there as many opportunities for Blacks in Canada that can produce role models and institutions like TD Jakes, Beyonce, Tyler Perry, Obama, BET, etc:
Comparing ourselves to the US is not the most prudent or helpful given the particularity of the Black peoples, communities, and experiences that populate Canada’s physical, historical, linguistic, cultural and social landscape. We come from different backgrounds, some of us here since at least the 1600s, many more of us having followed different and continuing waves of migration. Our identification to blackness is rich, varied, layered and textured. This fact, coupled with Canada’s unique history, institutions, values, and challenges makes comparing our situation to Blacks in the US somewhat of apples to oranges exercise. I think it is most important to recognize that there have been three principal expressions of Black mobilization that have allowed African-Americans to achieve what they have in the US. The first being Garveyism and the United Negro Improvement Association; the second being the Civil Rights Movement; and finally the Black Power Movement. For the most part, none of these movements were rooted, guided, led, mobilized or inspired in any meaningful way by a sentiment that said: “Black people in X country have certain things, so let us African-Americans organize and agitate to get the same.” To the contrary, African-Americans in these movements primarily referenced their own US communities, institutions, realities, histories, and injustices and shaped their demands and vision almost exclusively on those terms alone. They were masters of their own fate and commanders of their own destiny. I think it would serve Blacks in Canada and Canada as a whole much benefit if we were to liberate ourselves from comparisons that suppose the US as any kind of model for healthy, widespread and sustainable progress.
Mention a few of your favorite Black Canadian Leaders, Artists and Role Models?
My grandmother, Hazel Graham; my mother, Shirley Davis; my sister, Tonika Morgan; Charles Roach; Rocky Jones; Dudley Laws; Maryann Shadd (not Canadian but significant to Black Canadian history); Rosemary Brown; Carrie Best; Lincoln M. Alexander; Leonard Braithwaite; Adelle Blackett; David Austin; Juanita Westmoreland-Traoré, Afua Cooper.
Should & do Blacks support / patronize black music, events and businesses?
Blacks should definitely support/patronize Black music, events, and businesses as long as those institutions are serving the healthy and sustainable development of Black peoples and communities. Related to this issue, Marcus Garvey once said: “A race that is solely dependent upon another for its economic existence sooner or later dies. As we have in the past been living upon the mercies shown us by others, and by the chances obtainable, and have suffered therefrom, so will we in the future suffer if an effort is not made now to adjust our own affairs.”
What’s your understanding of Black History in Canada?
That the notion of Black History in Canada is still treated as an oxymoron. This is reflected in the lack of representation of this history in important street names, parks, statutes, government buildings, schools, school textbooks, as well as Canadian literature and broadcasting. This translates into widespread indifference regarding the steep underrepresentation of Black Canadians in all levels of politics, business, the judiciary and gainful professions such as law, medicine, engineering, finance and the like. We do not know enough about who we are and what we have brought to this country and so we have no confident foothold from which to make legitimate demands to enjoy the freedoms and equality that Canada professes.
I often imagine Black history in Canada and Black history in general as a kind of massive, colorful and elaborate jigsaw puzzle with millions of small pieces. Imagine putting together such a complex puzzle without the original image to reference and help guide the re-assembly. That is largely what Blacks in Canada and the world over are dealing with. We have to work together to find the pieces, figure out how they work together, and come together to connect them. That’s how we build and re-take our rightful place not only in Canada but also within the family of humanity.
Anthony Morgan’s words for an uninspired person:
To the uninspired person I would combine two of the more famous adages from Western philosophy: “Know thyself” (Greek-attributed maxim) and “Knowledge is power” (attributed to Francis Bacon). To know the true history of Black peoples is to know a history of great civilizations, societies, and accomplishments. The history of these civilizations was massively disrupted by centuries of slavery, genocide, colonization, and neo-colonization. None of these injustices have managed to completely extinguish our peoples’ resolve, resilience or will to awaken and rediscover who we were for centuries before contact with Europeans as enslavers. To truly know our history is to be inspired and to know our history is to awaken to our true power as individuals and more importantly, as a collective.