Melvin Crump: Musician and civil rights activist

(This story is one of a series entitled “One Person’s Journey” telling how people from all walks of life, including a few rogues and rebels, have left their marks upon the world. To see a list of others featured in the series, click here.)

Melvin Crump 1916 – 2009

Melvin Crump
1916 – 2009

As a first-generation black Albertan, Melvin Crump learned early about racial discrimination. His father, Bobbie Crump, was one of the black immigrants who left Oklahoma between 1908 and 1911, lured by Canadian government advertisements targeting potential American homesteaders. Bobbie and his fellow immigrants – who included his parents and nine siblings – thought they were leaving for a better life, escaping from the infamous Jim Crow segregation laws of the American South. It was only when they arrived in Alberta that they discovered Canada wanted only white settlers to populate the region. This wasn’t spelled out in the government ads, of course. In fact, the first ads even went so far as to say, “No better opportunity affords itself to the agricultural Negro than in Western Canada.” However, when the Edmonton and Calgary newspapers and the local boards of trade started claiming that “desirable” white settlers were refusing to homestead in Alberta because of the influx of black immigrants, the government agents travelled to Oklahoma and told the blacks to stay home. “The land is unproductive and the climate harsh,” said the agents, clearly contradicting what they were telling white American farmers at the time. “Go to Washington or Montana instead.”

Read the rest of this 2,200-word story for 99 cents. Click on the “Buy Now” button below to have this story digitally delivered to you.
Buy Now Button

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>