Tribute to Viola Desmond
Listen to Witness
Viola Desmond was a successful businesswoman, a beautician, and a pillar of her community in 1940s Halifax. But none of that mattered on a cold afternoon in New Glasgow, in 1946. Then all that mattered was that Viola Desmond was black, and she was refusing to give up her seat in the white section of a segregated theatre.
Viola Desmond's story has been known locally for many years. But the true significance of her act of defiance, and her subsequent arrest is just starting to be widely recognized. It's a story her sister Wanda is proud to tell. Wanda Robson lives in Cape Breton now, and she's 79 years old. She clearly remembers that pivotal day when her sister failed to call home.
Poet and playwright David Woods has been inspired by Viola Desmond's story. His poem "Witness" is a tribute to her life and spirit.