VANCOUVER—Deep in the heart of the city’s downtown core, decades before the Georgia viaduct was built, there once was a thriving Black neighbourhood known as Hogan’s Alley. The ghosts of that community will be dancing once again on Saturday morning and early afternoon (February 21), thanks to a Black History Month (BHM) event sponsored by CUPE BC.
CUPE BC’s Committee Against Racism and Discrimination, in conjunction with its Workers of Colour Working Group, is staging an event at Strathcona Elementary School (592 East Pender Street, 10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.) aimed at raising awareness about Vancouver’s historic Black neighbourhood and its legacy.
For the first six decades of the twentieth century, Hogan’s Alley was a bustling community in the southwestern corner of Strathcona that ran between Union and Prior Streets from Main Street to Jackson Avenue. Its first arrivals were Black settlers from Vancouver Island who had arrived in Canada in 1858 after escaping oppressive racial conditions in San Francisco. Its final inhabitants included Jimi Hendrix, who lived with his grandmother in Hogan’s Alley after being discharged from the US Army and shortly afterward launched his international career as a rock music legend.
Although still faced with discrimination, many of the neighbourhood’s original residents enriched the political, economic, religious, and cultural life of the city and province. At the BHM event, community speakers Constance Barnes, Randy Clark, Lilian Holmes, and Gary Myers will share their insights about their contributions. This will be followed by a musical performance from singer Phyllis Braithwaite-States and spoken word performances from slam poet Kevan Cameron and poet Adelenedasoul. Traditional African tea, coffee and refreshments will be served in the cafeteria.
Following the event, a walking tour of the neighbourhood will reveal some of the great historic landmarks and events of the Hogan’s Alley period. Sunny weather is expected.