Casual Canadian sports fans might know that Prince Albert product Harry Jerome set a bevy of world records during his track and field career and earned a bronze medal for his country in the 100-metre dash at the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
What they might not know, however, is the challenges he had to face as a black man during the course of his athletic achievements.
Jerome’s journey is one of eight that are being profiled as part of the Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame’s new anti-racism campaign called #WeWillDoBetter, which launched last week.
“Harry faced relentless racism throughout his career and he fought against racism and prejudice by wearing his singlet inside out,” Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame President and CEO Cheryl Bernard said on Tuesday.
“All of the Hall of Fame inductees that were are profiling experienced adversity and racism during their careers, but what stands out about all of them is what they’ve done to give back to Canada, despite what they’ve faced. In Harry’s case, he set up cross country running clinics across the country and devoted his life to amateur sport.”
The purpose of the campaign, which includes eight curated mini-documentaries that have been produced in partnership with TSN, is to raise awareness about systematic racism that transcends Canadian sports.
In addition to Jerome, the campaign will also profile football players Damon Allen, Michael “Pinball” Clemons and George Reed, hockey players Herb Carnegie and Willie O’Ree, baseball pitcher Ferguson “Fergie” Jenkins and track and field runner Phil Edwards.
The vignettes, which began airing on Nov. 25 and will be released through March, will highlight the careers and contributions of each hall of famer, in addition to the adversity that they faced in their careers.
“When I was talking with Pinball Clemons, who was born in the United States and has lived here for most of his life, he told me that ‘racism is here, it’s just to a lesser degree,’” Bernard said.
“We hope that these vignettes help to start conversations, creates awareness and promotes change, especially for our youth. You read and hear these stories and it’s a reminder for everyone in our country about how to treat people and to make sure that things like what they went through don’t happen again. We don’t want history to repeat itself.”
Bernard says plans are in the works to expand the program in 2021 to profile the Hall of Fame’s indigenous inductees.
The vignettes can be viewed on the Sports Hall of Fame’s social media pages and their website, sportshall.ca.