Racing and sport in the spotlight in Chatham-Kent

A local author uses the experiences of Chatham-Kent athletes to shed light on the role that race has played in sport.

Ian Kennedy’s On Account of Darkness: Shedding Light on Race and Sport takes you through more than 100 years of stories about athletes who excelled in times of social injustice and systemic racism.

The book includes first-hand accounts of Baseball Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins, as well as stories about the Chatham Colored All-Stars and Chatham-Kent Indigenous and Japanese Canadian athletes who left a lasting impact on the sport.

“I think if we don’t learn about our history, we can’t make plans to be a better, safer, more inclusive space and society in the future,” Kennedy said. “To this day there are still so many children, people of color, who don’t feel welcome or safe in sports.”

When the pandemic hit and live-action sports ground to a halt, Kennedy found the time to start this project.

“[It took] Hundreds of hours of in-person, Zoom, and phone interviews with descendants and athletes themselves from First Nations communities, Japanese Canadian athletes and their families, and our local Black community,” Kennedy said. “I have spent many hours in local libraries and museums and researched online. There’s a lot of research in the depths of some of the discoveries in the book that weren’t there before.”

This whole process provided Kennedy with an opportunity to gain insight into what athletes were experiencing during that time.

“There’s so much here, whether it’s the ins and outs of the Chatham Colored All-Stars, or how important our area was in the Japanese-Canadian internment, or how many kids in our area went to boarding schools and their role in the Playing sports were in these facilities to assimilate Indigenous youth to feel or be more Canadian,” Kennedy said.

Without learning about our history, Kennedy believes we will not be able to make the future a better, safer, and more inclusive place.

“Without understanding why this is and where we’re coming from, it’s impossible to make that actionable change in the future,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy will celebrate the publication of his book on Saturday June 4th at the Sons of Kent and June 11th at the Buxton National Historic Site & Museum.

The book will be available in bookstores in Canada and the United States and online.

Leave a Comment