Rollcall – A poem by George Elliot Clarke

Rollcall, by George Elliott Clarke, Canada's Parliamentary Poet Laureate, was created at the request of the Government of Canada as parts of its Black History Month 2017 campaign and in conjunction with Canada's 150th anniversary of Confederation.

"Rollcall" underlines that African/Black Canadian history is Canadian citizens (or colonial Canadians) working heroically in the past, dynamically in the present, and, inspired, for the future. These names represent individuals whose stories compose our history and our current struggles for triumph and success. The poem takes the form of decasyllabic quatrains to remind us of the strength our ancestors gleaned from spirituals and anthems.

Rollcall

Michaëlle Jean, Anne Cools, Maestro Fresh Wes,
Viola Desmond, Oscar Peterson,
Harriet Tubman, Elijah McCoy,
Jully Black, Leonard Braithwaite, and Charles Roach.

Fitzroy Gordon, Mary Anne Shadd Cary,
Pearleen Oliver, W.P. Oliver, Carrie Best,
Lincoln Alexander, Drake,
Les Oliver, and William Andrew White.

Portia May White, Austin Chesterfield Clarke,
Dionne Brand, Claire Harris, Nathaniel Dett,
Mairuth Sarsfield, Osborne Anderson,
Monica Gaylord, and Stanley Grizzle.

Present!

Rachel Manley, Burnley A. "Rocky" Jones,
Richard Preston, M. NourbeSe Philip,
David Chariandy, Deborah Miller-Brown,
Lorris Elliott, and Yvonne Atwell.

Lydia Jackson, Matthieu da Costa,
Rita Cox, Spider Jones, Lennox Lewis,
Harry Jerome, Maka Kotto, George Boyd,
Linda Carvery, and dd Jackson.

Ahdri Zhina Mandiela, Shawn Belle,
Amanda Marshall, Eddie Carvery,
Liberty Silver, Anthony Bennett,
Andrea Lewis, and Michael Lee-Chin.

Present!

Marjorie Turner-Bailey, Lawrence Hill,
Marie-Josèphe Angélique, Ben Jackson,
Daurene Lewis, James Robertson Johnston,
Corinne Sparks, George Dixon, and Joyce L. Ross.

Sylvia Hamilton, James A.R. Kinney,
Edith Hope Cromwell, Edwin H. Borden,
Joan Jones, Jeremiah Jones, Oliver Jones,
Suzette Mayr, Nikki Clarke, and Don Meredith.

Mayann E. Francis, Delmore "Buddy" Daye,
Djanet Sears, Sam Langford, Percy Paris,
Wanda Thomas Bernard, Frantz Benjamin,
Jennifer Holness, and Herb Carnegie.

Present!

El Jones, Walter Borden, Dream Warriors,
Maxine Tynes, Julius Isaac, Paul Winn,
Karlene Nation, Pierre Bonga, Shane Book,
Donna Nurse, and Seraphim Joe Fortes.

Salome Bey, Lawrence Ytzhak Braithwaite,
Simone Denny, Troy Burle Bailey, Quddus,
Velma Carter, Charles Officer, Prevail,
Leah S. Carter, and Tyrone Benskin.

Rosemary Brown, Arnold A. Auguste,
Zanana Akande, Alvin Curling,
Yolande James, George Rogers, Jean Alfred,
Firmin Monestime, and Ahmed Hussen.

Present!

Charles Spurgeon Fletcher, Sharon Lee Williams,
Rachael Crawford, Leroy Sibbles, Clyde Gray,
Dorothy Proctor, Joe Sealey, Grant Fuhr,
Lorena Gale, and Dayana Cadeau.

Lillian Allen, Cameron Bailey,
Rae Dawn Chong, Archie Alleyne, Ardon Bess,
Lalia Halfkenny, Donald Fairfax,
Mary Ann Chambers, and Cadence Weapon.

Abraham Beverley Walker, Choclair,
Rella Braithwaite, Anthony Phelps, Jay Hope,
Rosemary Sadlier, Bromley Armstrong,
Deborah Cox, and Samuel Dalembert.

Present!

Charis Newton-Thomson, Charlie Biddle,
Peggy Downes, Anthony Sherwood, Keith Forde,
Andrea Elaine Lawrence, Fred Christie,
Beverley Mascoll, and Nelson Symonds.

Karen Robinson, Hugh Burnett, Fred Ward,
Arlene Duncan, Calvin Lawrence, Phil Edwards,
Jennifer Hodge de Silva, George Godfrey,
Jennifer Hosten, and Selwyn Jacob.

Kimberley Huie, Anthony Binga,
Kia Nurse, Jackie Shane, Rufus Rockhead,
Juliette Powell, Roger McTair, Jack White,
Claire Prieto, and William Harvey Golar.

Present!

Quanteisha, Nigel Shawn Williams, Craig Smith,
Alison Sealy-Smith, Michael Fraser,
Makyla Smith, Shailyn Pierre-Dixon,
Rita Deverell, and Anthony Stewart.

Measha Brueggergosman, Clement Virgo,
William Peyton Hubbard, Willie O'Ree,
Trey Anthony, Anthony Bennett,
Afua Cooper, and Denzal Sinclaire.

Perdita Felicien, Delos Davis,
Margarett Best, James Calvert Best, Shelton Brooks,
Esi Edugyan, Natasha Eloi,
Rose Fortune, and Emmanuel Dubourg.

Present!

Anais Granofsky, Josiah Henson,
Fefe Dobson, William Hall, Dubmatique,
Kamala-Jean Gopie, Cecil Foster,
Nalo Hopkinson, and Matt Galloway.

Karen LeBlanc, Olivier Le Jeune,
Molly Johnson, Israel Idonije,
Yanna McIntosh, Jarome Iginla,
Taborah Johnson, and Daniel Igali.

Jackie Richardson, Gloria Reuben,
Renee Lee, Calvin Ruck, Ovid Jackson,
Percy Paris, Samuel Oghale Oboh,
Olive Senior, Haydain Neale, and Chris Spence.

Present!

Cree Summer, Nerene Virgin, Sheila White,
Makeda Silvera, Chris White, Rascalz,
Angella Taylor-Issajenko, Shad,
Shakura S'Aida, and Burr Plato.

Juanita Westmoreland Traoré, Thrust,
Jackie Washington, Rinaldo Walcott,
D'bi Young, Clifton Joseph, Ken Wiwa,
Tonya Lee Williams, and Stephen Williams.

Geraldine Clarke, Nettie Clarke, Gerald Clarke,
Anna Minerva Henderson, Bill White,
Shelley Hamilton, Howard McCurdy,
Joan Mendes, Dudley Laws, and Graham Downey.

Present!

Andre Alexis, Vivian Barbot,
Nega Mezlekia, Malcolm Gladwell,
Melyssa Ford, Charmaine Hooper, k-os,
Kardinal Offishall, and Nicole Lyn.

Agnes Calliste, Peter E. McKerrow,
Four the Moment, Brainerd Blyden-Taylor,
Esmerelda Thornhill, Charles R. Saunders,
Althea Prince, and Tony McKegney.

Sonnet L'Abbé, Dany Laferrière,
Marie-Célie Agnant, Bucky Adams,
Tessa McWatt, Nandi Odhiambo,
Frances-Anne Solomon, and Little X.

Present!

Vanessa Morgan, Sylvia Sweeney,
Michael Coteau, Shadrach Minkins, RT!,
Donna-Michelle St. Bernard, Samita,
Sandra Levy, and Graham Norman Cromwell.

Linda Carvery, Malcolm Azania,
Sweet Daddy Siki, Sugar Plum Croxen,
Faith Nolan, G98.7,
Tanika Charles, and Marcellus François.

Cheryl Foggo, George Sefa Dei, Scruffmouth,
Andrea Thompson, Tanya Evanson,
Uzoma Essonwanne, Ritalin,
Juanita Peters, and Stanley Péan.

Present!

Adebe DeRango-Adem, Klyde Broox,
Addena Sumter-Frietag, Charles C. Smith,
Shauntay Grant, Motion, Anthony Joyette,
Valerie Mason-John, and Jemeni.

Itah Sadu, George Augusto Borden,
Oni the Haitian Sensation, Winsom,
Pamela Mordecai, Richard Iton,
Sharon Welch, David Woods, and Nth Digri.

Grace Channer, Leo W. Bertley,
Adrienne Shadd, Harold Head, Darryl Gray,
Gwen Johnston, Lenny Johnston, Marlene Green,
Khadeja McCall, and David "Skip" States.

Present!

Karen Miranda Augustine, Gil Scott,
Vera Cudjoe, Jonathan De Guzman,
Archie Crail, Jarvis Church, Charles H. Este,
Buseje Bailey, and Headley Tulloch.

Suli Williams, P. Anthony Johnstone,
Geraldine Browning, Gary Archibald,
Phil Akin, Clé Bennett, Everiste Blaize,
Ayanna Black, and Gérard Étienne.

Caroline Cole, David George, Boston King,
Ulrick Chérubin, Kenneth Montague,
Julian De Guzman, Emery Barnes,
Wanda Robson, and Max Dorsinville.

Present!

Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, John Marrant,
Gregory Charles, David Defiagbon,
Tajja Isen, Billy Downey, Dirk Graham,
Laura Creavalle, and Rosie Douglas.

Ferguson Jenkins, Nelson Mandela,
Amelia E. Johnson, Mark Saunders,
Sandy Seale, Lennox Farrell, Lennox Brown,
Daniel Hill, Dan Hill, and George McCurdy.

Tamara Taylor, David (Sudz) Sutherland,
Marcia Young, P.K. Subban, John Ware,
Micheline Rawlins, Anderson Abbott,
Toya Alexis, Gary Beals, and, now, you.

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