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Wed, 07.20.2022

William A. White, Canadian Minister and Soldier born

*William A. White II was born on this date in 1874. He was a Black Nova Scotian minister and soldier.

William Andrew White II was born to formerly enslaved people in King and Queen County, Virginia. He moved to the city of Baltimore, Maryland, where he lived with his brother and attended Wayland Seminary in Washington. After a Canadian Baptist missionary and schoolteacher impressed him with descriptions of the province, where formerly enslaved Americans had been resettled after the Revolutionary War, White moved to Nova Scotia in 1900. He had imagined this land as his key to freedom.

He became the second black man accepted by Acadia University and, in 1903, became its first black graduate. White graduated with an arts degree in theology and was ordained a Baptist minister. He worked the next two years as a traveling missionary for the African Baptist churches of Nova Scotia. In 1916, White enlisted in the No. 2 Construction Battalion, an all-black segregated unit serving in World War I. He was the only black chaplain in the British Army and was a commissioned officer serving with the rank of Honorary Captain.

White met and married Izie Dora White of Mill Village, Nova Scotia. She was a descendant of Black Loyalists. Together they raised a family of thirteen children. One of their daughters, Portia White, became a world-famous singer.  Bill White Jr. became the first Black Canadian to run for federal political office in Canada when he stood as a candidate for the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation in the 1949 federal election. Jack was a Canadian labor union activist and the second black candidate to run for office in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

Following the war, White returned to Halifax and was called to Cornwallis Street Baptist Church. He served as a rector for more than 17 years. During the early 1930s, his services were broadcast over the radio every month and heard throughout the Maritimes. He died of cancer on September 9, 1936, in Halifax.

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Sitting here alone, in peace With my private sadness Bared of the acquirements Of the mind’s eye Vision reversed, upended, Seeing only the holdings Inside the walls of me, Feeling the roots that bind me, To this... PRIVATE SADNESS by Bob Kaufman.
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