DRPS recently celebrated the launch of Black History Month during an event at Regional Headquarters and will continue to mark this important initiative during the month of February.
During this month we recognize the first two black officers to work in Durham Region prior to the forming of the Durham Regional Police, January 1, 1974, Cst. Wally White and Cst. Hal Leslie. Cst. White worked for the Oshawa Police Department as a patrol officer and Cst. Leslie worked in Pickering Township Police Department. Hal Leslie was promoted to the rank of Detective after our amalgamation.
The origins of Black History Month can be traced to 1926, when Black historian Carter G. Woodson founded Negro History Week to celebrate the history, contributions and culture of African-Americans. February was chosen to link the birth dates of Black activist Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln.
In Canada, official recognition came in the early 1950s when the Canadian Negro Women's Association successfully petitioned Toronto City Council to acknowledge the week. In the 1970s, the Council, after lobbying by the newly formed Ontario Black History Society, declared that February would be known as Black History Month.
National recognition followed on December 14, 1995 when the House of Commons unanimously agreed to a motion formally recognizing Black History Month and the importance of Black History for all Canadians.
Last year a special DRPS cruiser was unveiled to mark Black History Month, which features the faces of Canadian and international leaders and symbolizes our solidarity with the Black community. That cruiser is currently on regular patrol around Durham Region.
One of the first DRPS Black Officers, Cst. Wally White (JPG file, 166.3K bytes)
Our DRPS Cruiser Commemorating Black History (JPG file, 1,318.1K bytes)