How to Pass your Own Exam

With the end of February fast approaching (so quickly approaching that it’s here now!) this also marks the end of something much less obvious: Black History Month.

This also means it’s time to sharpen my pencil for the ol’ Nelleytimes Black History Month Exam.

What did I accomplish this month? Did I do enough? And more importantly, could I have done more?

Let’s take the ol’ test and find out.

Will I pass? Will I fail? As with any exam, it all depends on how much you studied, how prepared you are for it and of course – who writes and grades the exam. 😉

The ol’ Nelleytimes Black History Month Exam*

*written and graded by Nelley

Question 1: Did you learn about a famous Black Canadian you thought you already knew?

Why yes I did. The late Harry Jerome in fact. I applied for a scholarship in his name when I was in high school (didn’t get it-boo!) and knew that he was an athlete but didn’t know any other details of his life.

Question 2: Did you share that knowledge with others?

Oh ya, sure thing! Harry Jerome was an outstanding Canadian athlete with an astonishing athletic career:

  • Jerome set a total of seven world records, including tying the 100 metres in 10.0 seconds in 1960
  • He set the world record for the 100 yard dash at 9.2 seconds (darn Americans and there non metric system!) , making Jerome the only athlete to own both the 100 yard and 100 meter world record simultaneously
  • He competed successfully in 3 Summer Olympics (1960 in Rome, 1964 in Tokyo and 1968 in Mexico) an unheard of accomplishment in his day.

He unfortunately died relatively young (aged 40) of a surprise brain aneurysm in 1982. his life story is well documented in the 2010 film documentary ‘Mighty Jerome’.

Craziest fact:

He suffered a leg injury so severe in 1962 (his quadriceps fully separated from his knee ligaments – gross!) and his doctors initially believed he would never be able to walk again. Despite this dire prediction, he had the reattachment surgery (yikes!) then worked with coaches and trainers in an effort to get back on the track. He went on to qualify and compete in 2 more Summer Olympics, coming in 3rd in the 100m sprint and 4th in the 200m sprint!

Damn that’s inspiring!

Question 3: Did you learn about a significant Black Canadian you never knew before, who carved a path for others?

Why yes I did that too. This exam is great! The BC chapter of the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers held a mini film festival, showcasing the documentary film:  ‘The making of a judge’ about the life of the Honourable Judge George E. Carter. Judge Carter owns the distinction of being the first Canadian-born Black judge in Canada.

Question 4. Did you share this knowledge with others?

Oops. I always forget that part.

A brilliant man, Judge Carter was born way back in 1921 and is still, happily, alive today. In the film they describe the time he lived in being a time of exclusion, with a silent racism that permeated all aspects of his life as he tried to prevail based on his exceptional skill and ability in a legal society that was holding him back based solely on the colour of his skin. He was finally called to the bench in 1976 and his stellar service record and fair and balanced legal style is still a shining example to all lawyers to today.

The inspiring message I took from his life story is that you must always live up to your expectations of yourself and never live down to what others expect of you. And of course to always expect great things from yourself.

Surprising fact: Now into his 90’s, he’s still practising law. Not only that but his sharp mind is still intact and he’s as witty as ever.

Question 5. Did you showcase and support young and talented Canadians?

Sure did! I volunteered for an event called ‘When the Spirit Moves’, a musical showcase that introduced attendees to an adorable 11-year-old pianist named Jo-Raul Farley, and Shanise Brown, a talented young 16-year-old singer.
Go me!

Question 6. Are there any events you said ‘Yes’ to but didn’t actually attend?

What?! Who wrote this thing anyway?! Fine. Yes, unfortunately there were a few. As I say yes to everything (well I meant to go….) sometimes events overlapped and I had to pick just one….And sometimes I’m just plain lazy and prefer to stay put then to venture out in the snow. Plus, there are only so many Friday/Saturday and Sundays in a month. C’mon people, give me a break already!

And finally,

Question 7. So what about parties? Reggae jams, soca fetes, bassment parties, etc? Did you plan, organize, attend or volunteer at any of those this month?

….Wow. I completely forgot about the party side of life. I didn’t get a chance to attend one Black History month related party, soca fete, reggae jam or even a spontaneous street party.


Final Grade


Learning is great. Educating others is wonderful and you definitely get extra points for sharing knowledge. Showcasing and/or supporting young talent is priceless and volunteering your time is highly commendable. However, you will have to be docked points for failing to show up for an RSVP’d event and most importantly for forgetting to actually celebrate the month. Parties are all about bringing people together in a relaxed environment and encouraging everyone to have a good time. It could have bridged culture gaps,  closed the racial divide and essentially brought about world peace. Yes, parties are THAT powerful and THAT important. tsk. tsk. tsk.


Final Grade: B+


BUT! If you attend as many parties, reggae jams and soca fetes as you can in March and begin to spread the seeds for Black History Month 2012, your grade can be bumped up to a much deserved A.

Really?? Deal!

See! It pays to write the exam. 😉

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