Viola Desmond challenged racial segregation in 1946.
Viola Desmond was an African Canadian entrepreneur and business woman who challenged racial segregation in 1946. She lived in a time when black women were expected to be servants in houses, and black men were expected to be servants on trains. From a young age, Viola dreamed of having her own business and by age 32 she was making her dreams come true – she had her own beauty salon, her own line of products and had set up a school to train other black women to work in the beauty business at a time when few local beauty schools accepted black students. She walked into history on November 8, 1946, when she refused to sit in the balcony section – where Black patrons were expected to sit – of New Glasgow’s Roseland Theatre. She was forcibly removed, spent the night in jail and was fined for tax evasion over a 0.01 cent tax she’d offered to pay. She fought the case in court and sparked a nationwide debate about desegregation! She was officially pardoned in 2010 and earlier in 2018 became the first woman to be featured on Canadian currency. Her $10 bill is the first Canadian bank note to be oriented vertically – how appropriate that her denomination is bold and unique!