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Letters  

2 distinguished politicians

Two distinguished politicians in BC's history were Emery Barnes and Rosemary Brown. Both represented the NDP Party. Both were nominated in their ridings and were elected to the legislature multiple times.

Who were they and why are they of interest? They were black. During their lives they faced discrimination and racism but they also rose above it. They didn't promote the destruction of statues or property to further themselves or their causes. Emery Barnes, a native American, moved to British Columbia from New Orleans in the 1950's. What makes him special? Although defeated in his first attempt in politics in the the late 1960's he was elected in 1972 and re-elected for four consecutive terms. In 1994 he was, by secret ballot, unanimously elected as the Speaker of the House. He was the first black man to hold this position in any Canadian province. What were his outstanding qualities? He was humane and modest. He was particularly concerned with social justice, human rights and poverty for the underprivileged. He even moved to East Vancouver and limited himself to living on what welfare recipients were receiving at that time. He found it almost impossible to survive.

Rosemary Brown was the first black woman to be elected to a provincial legislature in Canada. During her tenure of 14 years she introduced legislation to remove sexism and racism from the BC education curriculum and to reduce discrimination based on gender and marital status.

Neither used histrionics or their colour to gain the respect of their ridings. Both were politicians of integrity. Both were respected by their colleagues and their constituents.

I wonder how the appointed NDP candidates, here in the South Okanagan and Merritt will measure up?

Mary-Anne MacDonald, Summerland



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