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Story of sleeping car porters demonstrates Quebec's racist past

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--November 20, 2017.

larger_porters.jpgQuebec might not have had a system of whites-only signage, as in the southern United States during the Jim Crow era, or any immediate plans to build a wall to keep out our neighbours, but we do have a history of slavery and racism.

With our daily diet of “fake” news from Donald Trump’s America, Canadians could be forgiven for feeling smug. And there is much to be thankful for. Even so, it is important to remind ourselves that progress has not been easy.

Quebec might not have had a system of whites-only signage, as in the southern United States during the Jim Crow era, or any immediate plans to build a wall to keep out our neighbours, but we do have a history of slavery and racism.

For much of the 20th century, black Montrealers never knew if they would be served going into a bar, restaurant, cinema, or store. Proprietors had the right to serve whoever they wished. Fred Christie, from Verdun, faced this when he was refused service at a bar at the Montreal Forum in 1936. There were also cases of black tourists being refused hotel accommodation during Expo 67. Black Montrealers also faced discrimination at work, as few of the city’s factories would hire them until the Second World War.

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