IN HER OWN VOICE: AYANNA BLACK (1931 - July 21, 2009)
"In Nature, No Colour stands alone. separate and separate from all others.
Neither nature or civilization is a matter of black, white,yellow, red or brown facts.
A colourless rock does not exist.
A cloudless sky offers a diversity of hues.
A country contains a world with its borders."
Ayanna Black, Poet
excerpt 1997 Revue Noire
Working constantly on behalf of writers and artists, and devoted to multiculturalism, Ayanna was an enthusiastic committee and board member of many arts organizations including Harbourfront Centre, A Space and Women's Art Resource Centre (WARC). She was a member of the League of Canadian Poets, the Women's Writing Collective and a founding member of Canadian Artists Network: Black Artists in Action, which promoted black writers and artists nationally and internationally. As chair of the programming committee of Toronto Arts Against Apartheid, she enlisted help from Harry Belafonte to bring Bishop Desmond Tutu to Toronto.
A stalwart advocate and Board member of Harbourfront Centre, it is on these grounds that CELAFI 1992 was inaugurated and returned as the main site/venue for CELAFI 1997. Therefore its only fitting that Ayanna be commorated in Harbourfront Centre, Ontario Square with a special plaque and bench dedicated in her honour.
Alongside Ayanna, Ontario Square pays tribute to Afri-Canadian Change makers and among them some of CELAFI's most powerful artists and advocates with a dedication of benches named in their honour. The honorees are the late Ayanna Black, poet and advocate; the late Austin Clarke, author and African Canadian literary pioneer; the late Howard Matthews, cultural pioneer; the late Charles and Hetty Roach, Caribana pioneers 1967; Sandra Whiting, cultural animator and programmer; Afropan, Canadian steelpan pioneers; Salome Bey, queen of jazz & blues; Rita Cox, patron of the arts; Kamala-Jean Gopie, patron of the arts; Pamela Appelt, patron of the arts; and Althea Prince, author and African Canadian literary pioneer; Zanana Akande, educator, leader and friend to many communities; and George Curtis Randolph Jr., founder of the Randolph Academy for the arts.